BROOKLYN — An NYPD widow called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a law on Monday that would legally recognize her “miracle baby” born more than two years after her husband was assassinated while sitting in a patrol car with his partner.
Pei Xia Liu told PIX11 News her daughter doesn’t receive the same benefits as other children whose parent died in the line of duty.
“I want my daughter Angelina treated the same way as other ‘line of duty’ children,” she told PIX11 News on Monday. “Monthly Social Security survivors’ benefits.”
A bill recognizing the special circumstances of Angelina’s birth was sponsored by state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, of Brooklyn. It passed both houses of the New York State Legislature last week and should be on Cuomo’s desk this week. The governor needs to sign the bill into law.
“My daughter is only receiving medical insurance from her father now,” Liu added. “After that, she’s receiving nothing.”
Angelina Liu was born on July 25, 2017, after her mother underwent painful, in vitro fertilization treatments.
Nearly three years earlier, on the night of Dec. 20, 2014, an emergency room doctor at Woodhull Hospital had asked Liu, who was only married for three months at the time, if she wanted to have her husband’s sperm frozen.
Her husband, Wenjian Liu, and his partner, Rafael Ramos, had been fatally shot in their parked patrol car by a gunman who took a bus to Brooklyn from Baltimore and vowed to put “wings on pigs.”
Wenjian Liu, who was born in China, was the first Asian American NYPD officer killed in the line of duty, and his funeral was one of the largest in the department’s history.
“We had already planned on having children and raising a family together,” Pei Xia Liu told PIX11 News on Monday. “My husband was an only child.”
She told the doctor she wanted her husband’s sperm preserved, so his name could be carried on.
When Angelina was born, the NYPD rallied around the child, calling her a “miracle baby.”
Pei Xia Liu had received line-of-duty death insurance benefits and her husband was promoted posthumously to NYPD first grade detective. But other police widows Liu befriended said her child should also receive Social Security benefits.
Back in 2019, when Pei Xia Liu began her legal fight for the benefits, she showed PIX11 the rejection letters she had received two different times from the Social Security Administration.
One letter stated, “Angelina Liu is not entitled to child’s benefits because the facts we have do not show that she meets the definition of child under state or federal law.”
At the time, Sen. Gounardes said it wouldn’t have been an issue if Wenjian Liu had signed a consent form seven months prior to his death.
“There was no way to anticipate a situation like this,” Gounardes added. “When an officer is shot down in the line of duty, and we have so few precious minutes to stabilize him or extract reproductive materials, the law doesn’t deal with this situation adequately.”
Under current state law, Angelina was not recognized as Wenjian Liu’s daughter, and Gounardes sought to change that.
“Families like Detective Liu’s who suffered a terrible unexpected loss should not be prevented from receiving what is theirs because of antiquated laws,” Gounardes told PIX11 on Monday. “With the passage of this legislation, we’re ensuring his family and other families in the same situation are cared for. Now, we can honor the memory of Detective Liu and the tremendous sacrifice he made.”
Pei Xia Liu also said she was grateful for the support she’s received from Paul DiGiacomo, president of the Detective’s Endowment Association.
Now, she’s hoping Cuomo will sign the bill into law, before the New York State Legislative session ends this Thursday.
Angelina Liu, meanwhile, is getting ready to start pre-kindergarten this September. She will turn 4 years old in July.
When PIX11 first talked to her mother about the Social Security issue, she said her daughter was “caring” like her father, “very neat,” and liked to read, just like her dad.
And there didn’t seem to be any doubt then — or now — that Angelina is Wenjian Liu’s daughter, science or no science.
“Nobody can say my daughter Angelina is not his child,” Pei Xia Liu said in 2019. “She looks exactly like him. You don’t even have to do any tests! By looking at her, you can see that’s Wenjian’s child.”