Slain Officer Remembered: He Wrapped People in Kindness

Officials and family members remembered NYPD officer Wenjian Liu at his funeral Sunday as a kind and generous man with a deep sense of honor.

"That was Detective Liu’s way - lifting people up in every sense, wrapping them in kindness and teaching others by his example," Mayor de Blasio said in his eulogy. "New York City stands a little taller today because he walked among us."

The mayor spoke as thousands of police officers from around the country converged on the ceremony in a sea of blue to honor the 32-year-old officer, who was gunned down with his partner, Rafael Ramos, as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Dec. 20.

De Blasio recounted how Liu, while on the job, would often do more than was required - buying a troubled person a meal or turning a brief assistance call with an elderly veteran into a chance to hear the lonely man's war stories and even tuck him into bed.

Liu's wife, Pei Xia "Sandy" Chen, who married the officer just two months before he was killed, spoke tearfully of what she had lost.

"A loving husband and a loyal friend - you are an amazing man," she said. "Wenjian is my hero. We can always count on him. ... We love you."

In his eulogy, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton seemed to speak against the anti-police sentiment that has been expressed by some protesters in recent months.

After meeting with the Ramos and Liu families, “I found myself wondering, ‘Why do we always lose the good ones?’” he said. “But then I realized: It’s the law of averages. Almost all of them are the good ones. Very few are not.”

Thousands of uniformed officers, many who traveled from around the country, gathered outside the Dyker Heights funeral home Sunday to honor Liu, who had been on the force for seven years when he was killed.

Officer Lucas Grant of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office in Augusta, Georgia, said he came to Liu's funeral with about six other officers from neighboring departments "to support our family."

"When one of us loses our lives, we have to come together," Grant said.

FBI Director James Comey and members of Congress were among the mourners. 

As the crowds gathered, an anonymous donor from Hong Kong pledged to gift $500,000 each to the Liu and Ramos families, according to the Sing Tao Daily newspaper, which was helping to facilitate the donation.

The shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, killed himself shortly after the brazen daytime ambush on the two officers.

Investigators say Brinsley was an emotionally disturbed loner who had made references online to the killings this summer of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers, vowing to put "wings on pigs."

The deaths strained an already tense relationship between city police unions and de Blasio, who union leaders have said contributed to an environment that allowed the killings by supporting protests following the deaths of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The head of the rank-and-file police union, which is negotiating a contract with the city, turned his back on the mayor at a hospital the day of the killings. Last week, the act was imitated by hundreds of officers standing outside Ramos' funeral who turned their backs toward a giant TV screen as de Blasio's remarks were being broadcast.

Many people, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, have since pressed all parties to tone down the rhetoric. And this weekend, Bratton sent a memo to all commands urging respect, declaring "a hero's funeral is about grieving, not grievance."

At Saturday's wake, officers standing outside the funeral home where Liu was displayed, dressed in full uniform in an open casket, saluted as the mayor and commissioner entered.

But ill will was visible Sunday. During de Blasio's remarks at the funeral, some officers again turned their backs. Before the ceremony, retired NYPD officer John Mangan stood across the street from the funeral home with a sign that read: "God Bless the NYPD. Dump de Blasio."

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said after the display of disdain Sunday that officers "have a right to have our opinion heard, like everyone else that protests out in the city" and noted that officers' "organic gesture" was outside the service. The mayor got a respectful reception among police officials inside.

The NYPD declined to comment, and de Blasio spokesman Phil Walzak said the mayor was focused on honoring the fallen officers.

Liu, whose family emigrated from China when he was 12, attended Lafayette High School, then Kingsboro Community College and the College of Staten Island. He served in the police auxiliary before joining the force, and he moved this year to a home in Gravesend in Brooklyn.

"He was looking forward to having his own family," his family said in a written statement after his death. "Wenjian was proud to be a New York City officer."

Both Liu and Ramos were posthumously promoted to detective. The city also plans to honor them by naming streets near their homes for them, the mayor and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito have announced. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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