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Slain NYPD Officer's Funeral Draws Mourners From Around The Country


In New York City today, police officer Rafael Ramos was remembered. One week ago, he and another officer, Wenjian Liu, were shot and killed in their squad car by a gunman who said he hated police. Ilya Marritz from member station WNYC reports that many officers used Ramos' funeral this morning as a chance to silently protest a mayor they feel does not support them.


ILYA MARRITZ, BYLINE: They showed up before dawn - hundreds, then thousands of NYPD in navy-blue uniforms with brass buttons. The first rays of sunlight hit Myrtle Avenue, and their numbers grew as officers from around the country joined them, far more than Christ Tabernacle Church could possibly hold. Myrtle Avenue is where Ramos attended church, where his funeral service was held. And three miles due west, it leads to the spot where he and his fellow officer were killed. Famous and important men - men who didn't personally know Ramos came to memorialize him - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Vice Pres. Joe Biden.


VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: To the Ramos family, we were all lucky to have Rafael. He didn't just have a Bible in his locker. He lived it in his heart. He was a cop for all the right reasons.

MARRITZ: But it was when Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City spoke that the spell of respectful contemplation was broken outside the church.


DE BLASIO: One of the most beautiful passages in the Bible...

MARRITZ: All of the police officers around me have turned their backs to the mayor and to the church where he's speaking.


BLASIO: ...With Officer Ramos in mind.

MARRITZ: Instead of showing their faces, they showed the backs of their caps - hundreds of them. It's not the first time that police officers have defied the mayor in a public way. Their anger has been growing this month, as New Yorkers have taken to the streets to protest police tactics. And as the mayor has said, police culture must change. On December 3, a grand jury declined to indict an officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man. The city is tense. Inside the church, Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to set a tone of reconciliation.


BLASIO: ...Extend my condolences to another family - the family of the NYPD that is hurting so deeply right now - men and women feeling this loss so personally, so deeply, as their families feel the loss, as well.

MARRITZ: Officers finally turned around when the next speaker was up.

SANTIAGO: Well, you know, he made some comments that he should've waited, you know?

MARRITZ: This is Detective Santiago, who wouldn't give his first name. I caught him as the funeral was breaking up.

SANTIAGO: I really, you know - I don't want to get into politics. Today's not a day for politics. It's a day to mourn.

MARRITZ: Did you turn your back, can I ask?

SANTIAGO: I'd rather not say.

MARRITZ: Few other officers were willing to talk. They're under orders not to. Ramos had long served as an usher in his church and had just completed training to serve as a chaplain. He leaves behind a wife and two sons. Like his partner, Wenjian Liu, Rafael Ramos died before he could comprehend what was happening to him, who had done it or the significance his life would take on after death. For NPR News, I'm Ilya Marritz in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ilya Marritz
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