GLENDALE, Queens (PIX11) — A sea of blue flooded the streets around a Queens church Saturday morning as thousands of police officers said goodbye to one of two New York officers who was killed execution-style in the line of duty last weekend.
Ramos, 40, and his partner, Wenjian Liu, were both gunned down as they sat in their patrol car in Bedford-Stuyvesant last Saturday by a man who said he was retaliating against police for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.
More than 25,000 police officers attended Christ Tabernacle Church in the Glendale neighborhood for the funeral of 40-year-old Rafael Ramos.
A funeral service and procession for Ramos started at 10 a.m. at the church, where he was a member for 14 years.
Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio are among those in attendance.
During the service, Bratton announced he was appointing Ramos to an honorary NYPD chaplain. He then posthumously promoted Ramos and his slain partner, Officer Wenjian Liu, to detectives first grade.
“They were killed because they were blue,” Bratton said of the slain officers. “Officer Ramos was assassinated because he represented all of us.”
Ramos leaves a wife, Maritza, and sons Justin and Jaden.
Justin, a college sophomore, spoke at his father’s wake at the church Friday.
“My father was a man of character. He was a selfless man,” Justin said. “He always went above and beyond for his family, constantly putting everyone before himself. Dad, I’m forever grateful for the sacrifices you made to provide for me and Jaden.”
Vice president’s eulogy
“I’m sure I speak for the whole nation when I say our hearts ache for you,” Biden told the family during the service.
He noted how an expected 25,000 officers were surrounding the church in solemnity and added how they “will stand with you for the rest of your life.
“Its an uncommon fraternity,” Biden said.
Biden referred to how Ramos — known to those close to him as Ralph — was gunned down December 20 along with Liu as they sat parked in their patrol car in Brooklyn. The pair were assassinated, according to Bratton, simply because of the uniform they wore.
“Today we pay tribute to Officer Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu,” Biden said.
About police officers, he said: “Thank God for them.”
“Amen,” some in the church said.
“This is the finest police department in the world,” Biden added, drawing applause.
He added that the bullets that targeted the officers also “targeted the city, and (they) touched the soul of an entire nation.”
Governor leads applause
Cuomo then led the congregation in delivering a round of applause to the Ramos family.
Cuomo noted the local protesters who have taken strong exception to police conduct and the recent killings of unarmed black men nationwide.
Cuomo praised the professionalism of the NYPD officers at those protests.
“The NYPD protected the right of free speech even though they were targets of false and abusive tirades,” the governor said. “What a beautiful testament to their professionalism.”
He also noted threats against police.
“The threats against the New York police are insults to the law-abiding and won’t be tolerated,” Cuomo said, adding that the National Guard “has your back every step of your way.”
Anyone making threats “will be investigated, and they will be prosecuted,” Cuomo added.
Cuomo also delivered a measure of levity when he spoke of Ramos’ two sons.
“Justin and Jaden are Mets fans, which tells us a lot of about them. It means they are really tough and really committed and really, really, really loyal,” Cuomo said, drawing widespread laughter.
Mayor avoids politics
Unlike Cuomo, de Blasio did not comment on protests and threats against police during his remarks.
Nonetheless, a couple of officers booed de Blasio when he arrived for the funeral, and some officers outside turned their backs on the church when the mayor spoke. Some protest signs against him, including “Dump de Blasio,” were shown, but they were small displays, and officers were largely polite.
That tension reflected how de Blasio criticized police conduct in the days before the officers were killed. His criticism came as many parts of the nation had been roiling with racial controversy over the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police.
During the service, de Blasio hailed Ramos for his desire to serve people in many ways.
The mayor noted that Ramos spent the last 10 weeks of his life studying to be a chaplain, and that he was to graduate on the day he was killed.
“He was already serving in so many ways, and yet he felt deeply called to serve spiritually, as well,” de Blasio said.
“Our hearts are aching today,” the mayor said. “I feel it physically. … New York City has lost a hero — a remarkable man because of the depth of his commitment to all around him.”
He offered condolences to Ramos’ family, and then to the NYPD, who he said is “hurting so deeply right now.”
“He was so commited to the NYPD. It meant so much to him to be a member of the finest police force in this country.”