Mayor Eulogizes Officer as Cops Outside Turn Backs

Jonathan Lemire and Mike Balsamo, Yahoo! News, January 4, 2015

Thousands of police turned their backs Sunday as Mayor Bill de Blasio eulogized an officer shot dead with his partner, repeating a stinging display of scorn for the mayor despite entreaties to put anger aside.

The show of disrespect came outside the funeral home where Officer Wenjian Liu was remembered as an incarnation of the American dream: a man who had emigrated from China at age 12 and devoted himself to helping others in his adopted country. The gesture among officers watching the mayor’s speech on a screen added to tensions between the mayor and rank-and-file police even as he sought to quiet them.

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Liu, 32, had served as a policeman for seven years and was married just two months when he was killed with his partner, Officer Rafael Ramos, on Dec. 20. Liu’s longtime aspiration to become a police officer deepened after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, his father, Wei Tang Liu, said through tears.

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Dignitaries including FBI Director James Comey and members of Congress joined police officers from around the country in a throng of over 10,000 mourners.

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After hundreds of officers turned their backs to a screen where de Blasio’s remarks played during Ramos’ funeral last week, Police Commissioner William Bratton sent a memo urging respect, declaring “a hero’s funeral is about grieving, not grievance.”

But some officers and police retirees said they still felt compelled to spurn the mayor. Police union leaders have said he contributed to an environment that allowed the officers’ slayings by supporting protests following the police killings of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

“The mayor has no respect for us. Why should we have respect for him?” said retired New York Police Department Detective Camille Sanfilippo, who was among those who turned their backs Sunday. Retired NYPD Sgt. Laurie Carson called the action “our only way to show our displeasure with the mayor.”

Officers spun back around when Bratton took the podium to speak. {snip}

At Liu’s wake Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the officers’ slayings a tragic story of “pure and random hatred.” Cuomo didn’t attend the funeral, which came as he prepared to bury his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

The officers’ killer, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, committed suicide shortly after the brazen daytime ambush on a Brooklyn street. Investigators say Brinsley was an emotionally disturbed loner who had made references online to the killings this summer of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers, vowing to put “wings on pigs” in retaliation.

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