NEW YORK (PIX11) — NYPD Officer Wilbert Mora, who saved five lives with organ donations after a gunman’s bullet ended his, was the youngest child in a close-knit Dominican family that settled in Brooklyn, and then East Harlem, after emigrating to the United States.
“Wilbert was the baby,” said Sgt. Dennis Rodriguez, president of the New York Dominican Officers’ organization. He told PIX11 News that Mora had an older brother and sister.
“He was a gentle giant,” said Rashad Mujumder, Mora’s high school friend, who recalled that the slain officer stood at a strapping 6 feet, 3 inches tall. “The biggest person in the room with the softest heart.”
Mora was 27 years old when he died on Jan. 25, four days after he and his partner Jason Rivera were shot at close range while responding to a domestic incident on West 135th Street in Harlem.
The devastating shooting ultimately took the life of a young immigrant who moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic with his hard-working parents. Mujumder said Mora’s father worked as a barber and his mother, Amalia, had jobs in health care.
“He went to LaGuardia Community College and then he transferred to John Jay College, which is known for criminal justice studies,” Mujumder said. “He had a goal and he stuck to it. His parents are very proud of him. Seeing him put on the uniform was an amazing moment for them.”
Mujumder said he met Mora at the High School of Graphic Communications in Hell’s Kitchen when they were in ninth grade.
“He always brought people together,” remembered another friend, William De La Cruz.
The deadly shooting on Jan. 21 happened just a block from Mora and Rivera’s 32nd Precinct stationhouse in Harlem. Both officers were carried across the street to the emergency room at Harlem Hospital, where Rivera, a rookie, was immediately pronounced dead.
And the loss of Mora, who remained on life support for days until his organs could be harvested to help others, was profound not only for his parents and siblings but also the Dominican community at large.
“Dominicans, for the last few years, have been the majority of the Latino recruits to the NYPD,” Sgt. Rodriguez observed.
Mora and his 22-year-old partner were both Dominican Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
Nearly five years ago, in July 2017, another proud Dominican, Miosotis Familia, was fatally shot on a Bronx post, as Independence Day celebrations were winding down. Familia left behind three children, who all spoke at her funeral.
Officer Mora was in his fourth year on the job.
Retired NYPD Detective Angel Maysonet paid tribute to Mora on Instagram, posting a couple of photos and noting, “Everyone says he was a big teddy bear. Kind. Life of the party. Took care of his parents who are lost and devastated without him.”
Maysonet called Mora “a young, Dominican son of NYC. The epitome of what you want as an NYPD cop.”
Mora never had the chance to marry or have children, yet the donation of his heart, liver, two kidneys, and pancreas will allow others to celebrate life’s milestones.
Mora and Rivera were part of the new generation of NYPD cops, a new wave of law enforcement increasing in numbers — a departure from the Irish and Italian American dominance on the force of decades past.
After Rivera was promoted posthumously to detective first-grade at his funeral last Friday, the New York Dominican Officers organization created a special portrait of Rivera in NYPD uniform, wearing his gold shield, with a Dominican flag behind him.
The organization will proudly do the same for Officer Mora later this week.