NEW YORK (AP) — Hundreds of officers outside the church where a funeral was held for a policeman killed along with his partner in an ambush shooting turned their backs on the mayor as he spoke during Saturday’s service.
The reaction from officers watching Officer Rafael Ramos’ funeral on giant TV screens followed comments from police union officials who had said Mayor Bill de Blasio contributed to a climate of mistrust that contributed to the killings of the two New York Police Department officers.
Inside Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens, however, mourners gave de Blasio polite applause before and after his speech.
The mayor said hearts citywide were aching after the Dec. 20 shootings that left Ramos and his partner, Wenjian Liu, dead.
“All of this city is grieving and grieving for so many reasons,” de Blasio said. “But the most personal is that we’ve lost such a good man, and the family is in such pain.”
Police union officials have blamed de Blasio for fostering anti-police sentiment for his support of protesters angry that no charges will be filed in the police deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner on Staten Island. At a hospital after the officers’ slayings, the police union’s president, Patrick Lynch, and others turned their backs on de Blasio in a sign of disrespect. Lynch said the mayor had “blood on his hands.”
Weeks before the shooting, Lynch had suggested that officers sign a petition requesting that the mayor not attend their funerals were they to die in the line of duty.
De Blasio has stood firmly by the police since the shooting, calling on the demonstrators to temporarily halt their protests and praising officers after the police department announced the arrest of a seventh person since the shooting for making threats against police.
De Blasio and Lynch nodded at each other as they exited the church Saturday and lined up to wait for the casket.
The mayor followed Vice President Joe Biden and Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the roster of speakers eulogizing Ramos on Saturday.
Officers inside and outside the church applauded when Biden called the NYPD the finest in the world.
“When an assassin’s bullet targeted two officers, it targeted this city and it touched the soul of an entire nation,” the vice president said.
Cuomo called the daylight shootings of the officers as they sat in their cruiser on a street in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant section “an attack on all of us.”
The attack shook the city and put an end to large-scale local protests criticizing police over a series of high-profile, in-custody deaths.
Funeral plans for Ramos’ partner, Officer Wenjian Liu, have yet to be announced.
When the Ramos family arrived at the church Saturday, the elder son — wearing his father’s NYPD jacket — was hugged by a police officer.
Ramos, a 40-year-old married father of two, was studying to become a pastor and kept Bible study books in his locker, his commanding officer said.
Officer Dustin Lindaman of the Waterloo Police Department flew from Iowa to attend Ramos’ funeral.
“He’s one of our brothers, and when this happens, it affects everyone in law enforcement — it absolutely affects everyone,” he said. “We wanted to show our support.”
A block from the church, retired NYPD Officer John Mangan held a sign that read: “God Bless the NYPD. Dump de Blasio.”
“If the mayor really wanted to do the right thing, he would have gotten into an NYPD car and rode around Bed Stuy and see the difficult jobs these cops do every day,” Mangan said. “The bottom line is there should be more signs out here in support of these cops.”
After the officers’ deaths, the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley killed himself. Police said he was troubled and had shot and wounded an ex-girlfriend in Baltimore earlier that day.
In online posts shortly before the attack, Brinsley referenced the killings of Brown and Garner, both of whom were black, by white police officers.
Ramos and Liu were the first officers to die in the line of duty in New York since 2011.
They have both been posthumously promoted to first-grade detective, police said.