September 18, 2004

Funeral held for slain Brooklyn cop


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Newsday photo / Alejandra Villa

He was a teddy bear and a hard-nosed enforcer of the law. A son of Brooklyn, who was nostalgic about his vintage typewriter. An old-school detective who made collars at breakneck speed while showing his colleagues artful affection.

Women in domestic violence cases called Det. Robert Lee Parker's cell phone directly instead of calling 911. The day he died, several people came to the 67th Precinct station house, crying.

Everyone knew the stories, firsthand or otherwise, about Parker, shield No. 2988. Still, on Friday, they came from every corner of the state, thousands of law enforcement officers in their dress blues, greens and grays. They were joined by elected officials and ordinary citizens who wanted to hear more of the stories, too.

Together, they numbered in the thousands and brought a swath of Flatlands Avenue in Canarsie to a silent standstill.

But during a nearly three-hour service, no one tried to answer the question inextricably linked to Parker's death: Why?

Parker, 43, and his partner that day, Det. Patrick Rafferty, 39, were fatally shot while responding to a domestic disturbance complaint in East Flatbush. It was a shooting that shook the department, coming a day before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"I don't think we have to search for a reason behind the loss of Bobby Parker," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the Christian Cultural Center. "I don't think there really is one."

Instead, Bloomberg recalled Parker, a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident, as a "favorite son" of the borough. He "worked here and lived here, he ate here and he shopped here. He devoted himself to protect the people in this borough," the mayor said.

Outside the cavernous church, several posterboards held up snapshots in Parker's 22-year career.

In one photo, Parker, a strapping man who was a former amateur wrestler, sat on a colleague, who smiled from below. In another, he is a beat cop with bulging biceps, and a young man is standing next to him flexing his muscles. Below it was a photo of Parker and his fellow detectives, presiding with broad smiles over a white-cloth dinner and a bottle of Moet.

Deputy Inspector Vincent DiDonato, who oversaw both men, recalled that Parker was a huge Star Trek fan, and his favorite film from the series was "The Wrath of Khan."

He said Parker, who had made 500 arrests, frequently referred to a line it: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

"That was Bobby Parker, right there," he said. "If you became his friend, you checked in, you never checked out."

Parker's body was carried out by a police honor guard. He will be buried Saturday in Salisbury, N.C., where he was born.