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Cops turn backs on mayor again at fallen officer’s funeral

A sea of blue: Around 25,000 law enforcement professionals from all over the country attended the service, according to police brass.
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They gave him the cold shoulder.

Hundreds of police once again turned their backs on Mayor Bill Deblasio during a funeral service for slain police officer Wenjian Liu in Dyker Heights on Jan. 4.

Top brass directly in front of the funeral home remained at attention, but hundreds of the thousands of rank-and-file officers that filled 65th Avenue from 13th to 18th Avenues did an about-face when Hizzoner took the podium to eulogize Liu. Police union reps have said Deblasio has blood on his hands for the deaths of Liu and fellow cop Rafael Ramos, charging he has been insufficiently supportive of the NYPD. Officers made the disrespectful showing despite police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s memo late last week requesting officers not air their grievances at the ceremony for a slain officer.

“A hero’s funeral is about grieving, not grievance,” Bratton wrote in the Jan. 2 memo.

The memo said officers who did protest would not be disciplined.

Despite rain, tens of thousands of police and civilians stood along 65th Street and neighboring roads to attend the funeral before a motorcade accompanied the body to its final resting place in Cypress Hills Cemetery, law enforcement officials said.

Family members remembered Liu as a gentle and caring man who sacrificed for anyone who needed him.

“To me, he is my soulmate,” said Liu’s widow Pei Xian Chen.

The two married in September.

“He was fearless in and out of work,” Chen said.

Liu’s father called him a dedicated son who embodied Confucian ideals of piety toward parents.

“He called every day when he was finished with work to tell me he was safe,” Wei Tang Liu said through an interpreter.

Deranged transient Ismaaiyl Brinsley ambushed Liu and Ramos as the pair sat in a patrol car in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Dec. 20. Brinsley, who that morning shot his ex-girlfriend in the stomach at her home outside of Baltimore, turned the gun on himself on a G train platform after murdering the officers, police said. Brinsley had a history of depression and violent behavior and his girlfriend talked him out of a suicide attempt the day of the shooting spree, according to a New York Times report. In Instagram postings, he explained the murders as revenge for the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, according to reports.In the hours following the officers’ deaths, police unions seized on the killings as evidence that the mayors’ hands-off approach to anti-police-brutality protests had fomented violent anti-cop sentiment. Officers at the hospital where Liu’s and Ramos’s bodies had been taken turned their backs on DeBlasio as he filed in, and thousands, including many from outside New York, repeated the gesture outside of Ramos’s funeral. The latest protest comes amid an apparent work slowdown by police citywide, with officers writing more than 90 percent fewer summonses during the past two weeks than during the same period a year prior, according to the Times. The same period has seen drastic declines across the board in parking tickets, arrests, and criminal summonses.

Police unions have been in contract negotiations with City Hall since May.

At a press conference on Monday afternoon, DeBlasio and Bratton denied the apparent slowdown is a coordinated effort.

“At this time, I would not use the term slowdown, which would indicate it is an organized or comprehensive initiative,” Bratton said.

The 90 percent drop in summonses amounts to “very few days in the middle of the holidays and in the middle of very extraordinary circumstan­ces,” DeBlasio said.

The mayor said the display disrespected the officers who died, their families, and all police-supporting New Yorkers.

“They were disrespectful to the families involved who lost their loved ones, and I can’t understand why anyone would do such a thing in the context of [a funeral],” he said. “I also think it’s disrespectful to the people of this city who, in fact, honor work of the NYPD.”

Liu, 32, was a seven-year veteran of the force who immigrated to the United States in 1994, Bratton said. The Police Department posthumously promoted Liu and Ramos to detectives, he said.

The Council will vote whether to co-name streets in Dyker Heights and Queens for the slain officers sometime this month, officials announced.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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