Slain New York Police Officer Rafael Ramos was memorialized at a funeral attended by more than 25,000 police officers in Queens Saturday, CNN reported. The 40-year-old Ramos was eulogized by friends, family and officials as a shining example for fellow officers nationwide.
“He was my rock, a beacon of wisdom. He was my absolute best friend,” Ramos’ son Justin said at his father’s wake Friday. “My dad would have been there for everyone, and to see so many people here for him is a testament to who he is as a person. It has been so helpful during this time.”
Ramos and his partner Wenjian Liu were shot to death by Ismaaiyl Brinsley in an ambush-style attack in their patrol car one week ago as demonstrations raged throughout the country regarding the treatment of black civilians by white police officers. But Deacon John Cortes of the Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens said Ramos did not fit the typical police stereotype.
“He was a Puerto Rican kid who grew up on these streets,” Cortes, a former police officer who knew Ramos for 14 years, told the Washington Post. “This was a man who worked in our marriage ministry, counseling other young couples. He would say, ‘If you have an argument, just be kind. Don’t fight.’”
Thousands of police officers in a sea of blue and white watched the service on big screens on the streets of Queens. JetBlue Airways Corp. offered to fly police officers from anywhere on its U.S. network to the funeral in New York for free. Many put black pieces of tape over their badges as a sign of mourning. “It really is a brotherhood,” New Orleans Police Capt. Michael Glasser told the Post Friday after the wake for Ramos at the Christ Tabernacle Church.
A number of police officers symbolically turned their backs when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke during Saturday's service. “New York City has lost a hero,” the mayor said over a loudspeaker as those officers faced the opposite direction.
A group of NYPD officers -- both current and former -- have blamed de Blasio for the deaths of Ramos and Liu. “Mayor de Blasio, the blood of these two officers is clearly on your hands,” the New York Daily News quoted Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, as saying last weekend. “It is your failed policies and actions that enabled this tragedy to occur. I only hope and pray that more of these ambushes and executions do not happen again.”
New York Police Commissioner William Bratton was also at the funeral Saturday. He addressed the rift between the mayor and the police force. “We don’t see each other, the police officers and the people mad at the police,” Bratton reportedly said. “If we can learn to see each other, then we will heal, as a department, as a city, as a country. And wouldn’t that be an honor to these officers’ lives.”
Bratton announced he was appointing Ramos as an honorary NYPD chaplain. He had also posthumously promoted Ramos and Liu to the highest rank of detective in the department, CNN reported.
Government officials such as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also attended Saturday's funeral, the Post reported. “At the end of the day, we are one. One people, one state, one community, one family,” Cuomo said. “An attack on the New York Police Department is an attack on all of us. It’s an attack on our system of justice. We are a nation of laws. We are a state of laws.”
President Barack Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii with his family, asked Biden to attend the service. “Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of American families stand and wait so their husbands and wives, fathers and sons can serve the rest of us. Police officers and police families are a different breed. Thank God for them,” Biden said at the funeral.
Funeral arrangements for Liu have yet to be finalized, but JetBlue is working with a partner airline to fly in Liu’s relatives from China free of charge, the Daily News reported.