Newsday
Updated January 4, 2015 2:57 PM


Wife of slain Det. Wenjian Liu says he 'was my soul mate'

By JOHN ASBURY, VALERIE BAUMAN AND NICOLE FULLER

Craig Ruttle

NYPD officers carry the coffin of Det. Wenjian Liu Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, from a funeral home in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Burial followed in Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn.
See more photos of the wake and funeral by clicking
here.

Det. Wenjian Liu, one of two NYPD officers killed execution-style in their patrol car last month, was remembered and honored by his family, city leaders and thousands of his colleagues from across the country and beyond at his funeral Sunday morning.

"The wonderful man that he is, that many of you know as 'Joe' at work, to me, he is my soul mate," the officer's wife of nearly three months, Pei Xia Chen said, speaking in front of a wall of flowers and a photo of her late husband in uniform in a Brooklyn funeral home.

Chen, who is known as Sandy, broke down in tears while saying farewell to her husband, calling him "an incredible husband, son, co-worker and friend."

After the service, which included Buddhist customs, the family was left alone to say goodbye. Then bells rang, and a color guard, city and police leaders and a sea of officers in dress blue and white gloves who had come by car, plane and motorcycle stood at attention as the coffin -- draped in a green, blue and white NYPD flag -- was carried out under gray skies.

His grieving family followed the coffin as "Taps" played and three NYPD helicopters flew overhead. Officers saluted and the flag was folded and given to Sandy Chen, as she wept and "America the Beautiful" resonated along 65th Street in Dyker Heights.

Earlier at the service, NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton had said, "Det. Liu believed in the possibility of making a safer world, all cops do, it's why we do what we do. It's why we run towards danger when others run away."

Bratton recounted Liu's life with his family as they left their native China when he was 12 years old. He was a boy who helped his family when he could and was on a path to becoming an accountant when the 9/11 terror attacks occurred.

"Some people witnessed that horrible day and were paralyzed," Bratton said. "Det. Liu witnessed it and saw the possibility of service."

Bratton called Liu a "patient" man, whose family said he knew how to make a good soup and pick out a good vegetable.

"He shared his culture, a culture he was so proud of," Bratton said. "He was, after all, a good man, a humane man. He was a New York City cop."

Liu's father Wei Tang Liu spoke in Chinese, breaking down during and after his tribute to his only son, recalling that he would help his father finish his work and had taken his parents on his honeymoon. Liu's cousins also spoke, one saying "He brought pride and honor to our family."

"All of this city wants to lift up the Liu family and the Ramos family," said the mayor, who described Liu as a "good man . . . he walked a path of sacrifice, he walked a path of kindness." De Blasio recalled how Liu would often help the homeless, buying them meals and making sure they were warm.

He called for "mutual understanding" and "living in harmony." He said, "Let us move forward by strengthening the bonds that unite us."

An estimated 25,000 people, including thousands of officers, attended the service, many watching in the rain on giant television screens set up for the occasion outside the funeral home on 65th Street.

A group of 60 people from the Chinese community in and around Addison, New Jersey came to the funeral in buses.

"As a mother I feel how his parents feel. He's the only child in the family, and I feel like it's the minimum thing we can do for this family to support," said Jing Holm, 46, of Bayville, New Jersey.

Holm and her 12-year-old daughter woke up at 6 a.m. to head to Brooklyn to honor the fallen officer.

"At least from our hearts and we can support this family," Holm said.

Starting just after dawn, police set up metal barricades as the blocks surrounding the Dyker Heights, funeral home were closed off to traffic. Large television screens were set up outside to allow attendees outside to view the ceremony.

A 20-year resident of 65th Street, Pedro Cruz, became teary-eyed and said he felt "very bad" about what happened to the two murdered police officers. He said he didn't mind the disruption in his neighborhood caused by the funeral preparations, including early-morning mic checks, but rather supported them: "This is good because it shows that we care for these police officers."

Police Commissioner Bratton had asked officers in a memo to refrain from turning their backs at the wake, saying memorials are "about grieving, not grievance."

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who attended, said the assassination of the two officers "tore a wound open for the city" and that the city is "overflowing with grief." King, who has publicly chastised de Blasio in recent weeks, said the mayor has a chance to unite the city and heal the wounds left with the NYPD.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who arrived with King, said there were 550 Nassau police officers attending.

"We're coming together to honor the pact they made to put our lives above theirs," Mangano said.

Mangano, along with Nassau County acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter and First Deputy County Executive Rob Walker, paid their respects before Liu's funeral began.

Mangano said a photo of Liu was at an altar inside the funeral home. Liu's coffin was flanked by flowers and incense was burning.

"We went in; we said a prayer," said Mangano. "It's very sad."

The officers from outside New York, as well as local residents, had strong words as they addressed the recent demonstrations against police brutality and the way de Blasio has handled the situation.

"Across the county we seem to be under attack . . . we're public servants not public enemies," said Capt. Patrick Yoes, of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's office in Louisiana, who was able to attend with a free flight from Jet Blue.

Resident Lorraine Sarutto, 67, said: "I think they know we stand behind them," she said.

Sarutto, of Dyker Heights, blamed de Blasio for creating more racial tensions between NYPD and those in the neighborhood.

Captain Mark Candies, of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's office said he's received a huge outpouring of gratitude from NYPD cops.

"It's like a family reunion and meeting relatives you didn't know you had," said Candies. "It's wonderful."

His colleague, Lt. George Breedy, said: "We're here to grieve and we're here to console."

Small memorials decorated 65th Street from residents, including blue ribbons on light poles. Signs held messages like, "We . . . [love] NYPD" and signs in Chinese.

In front of the funeral home, a black wreath rested on the sidewalk with the message, "Hero Det. Liu."

Lt. Carl Moore, of the Petersburg, Va. police department said he drove up to Brooklyn Sunday morning with three of his colleagues on their day off.

"I think it's important to show some solidarity with our brothers in blue," said Moore. "I know they're going through a tough time.

"They sacrificed their lives so the least we can do is make a trip," he said.

Officer Lucas Grant, of the Richmond County Sheriff's office in Augusta, Ga. came with about six other cops from departments in his region "to support family."

In his dress blues and white gloves he said: "We want to show our support . . . and come together as a family."

John Mangan, 61, of Levittown, staked out a spot outside of the funeral home with a sign with two messages: "God Bless the NYPD" and "Dump de Blasio."

Mangan, a 20-year retired veteran of the NYPD who said he also attended Ramos' funeral about a week ago, said hundreds of cops swarmed him for pictures with his sign and he expected the same to happen Sunday.

At Saturday's wake for Liu, NYPD members saluted his coffin as other mourners bowed and lit incense in a somber wake that fused the department's tradition with Buddhist ritual.

Police officers passed out blue rubber bracelets with the slain officers' names and the words: "We won't forget your sacrifice."

William Wang, of Queens, came for the second day in a row to pay his respects. Liu's wife used to work for him at an insurance company, he said.

"We're here for the community to support the NYPD and support the family as well," he said. "this is a very difficult time not only for family but also for the community, because officer Liu is the first Chinese police [officer] who has died."

Wang said it was good for the Chinese community to be represented in the NYPD, and Liu's loss is felt by all.

With Sarah Armaghan, Maria Alvarez, Alison Fox, Scott Eidler and Emily Ngo