Newsday
Updated January 3, 2015 9:12 PM


No incidents as De Blasio attends wake of slain Officer Wenjian Liu

By MATTHEW CHAYES  matthew.chayes@newsday.com

Charles Eckert
Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, his wife Rikki Klieman, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker leave wake of Det. Wenjian Liu at Aievoli Funeral Home in Brooklyn on Saturday, Jan. 03, 2015. Click here to see more photos of the wake and funeral.

Mayor Bill de Blasio attended the wake of slain cop Wenjian Liu without incident Saturday, but it won't be clear until Sunday's funeral whether police officers will heed NYPD Commissioner William Bratton's appeal to end their back-turning protests against the mayor.

An on-duty NYPD honor guard saluted when de Blasio walked into the Brooklyn funeral home with Bratton as people lined up outside to pay their respects.

Sunday, officers are expected to fill the streets outside the funeral home to watch the service on a video screen. It was on Dec. 27 during the funeral of Rafael Ramos, the officer slain with Liu, that hundreds of NYPD members and out-of-town police turned their backs when de Blasio gave a eulogy.

"A hero's funeral is about grieving, not grievance," Bratton said in a memo being recited at roll calls.

The mayor and the police labor unions have been at odds since he voiced empathy with protesters over the apparent chokehold death of Eric Garner.

 
NYPD officers march Sunday morning, Jan. 4, 2015, to the funeral of Officer Wenjian Liu at the Aievoli Funeral Home in the Brooklyn.

Ramos and Liu were gunned down Dec. 20 by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who shot them in Bedford-Stuyvesant as they sat in their patrol car. Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said that night that de Blasio had blood on his hands.

A San Diego sheriff described the scene inside the funeral home as somber and very quiet. The sheriff said that Liu was dressed in uniform for an open casket. The sheriff said he was struck by how many flowers were on display inside.

Liu will be laid to rest on Sunday at the same location in a traditional Chinese ceremony led by Buddhist monks. Following officers' back-turning during de Blasio's eulogy at Ramos' funeral last week, Bratton has called for officers to avoid "inappropriate" behavior during Liu's ceremonies.

In a memo sent to NYPD precincts, Bratton said "A hero's funeral is about grieving, not grievance...I issue no mandates, and I make no threats of discipline, but I remind you that when you don the uniform of this department, you are bound by the tradition, honor and decency that go with it."

Luda Kaplan, whose son-in-law is a retired NYPD officer, slammed de Blasio's response to the Eric Garner grand jury.

"The blood of [Liu and Ramos] is on his hands," said Ms. Kaplan, echoing Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch's sentiments. She said she supports the back-turning "100 percent."

Ms. Kaplan held a sign of a heart drawn in marker along with the letters "NY" and "PD" written on each side.

She sympathized with the families of Liu and Ramos. "Every morning when my son-in-law left for work, we wondered whether he'd come home," she said.

Activist Calvin Hunt, of Harlem, brought his two children, ages 7 and 10, to Liu's wake to speak out against police threats.

"With all these death threats, what kind of attitude are police supposed to walk around with?" Hunt said. "The death threats need to stop. I'm against police brutality, but this is senseless. Two lives were lost...Nobody wins."

Navy veteran Felder Charbonnet, who recently moved to Dyker Heights from New Orleans, watched an eight-motorcycle motorcade of Georgia sheriffs arrive at the wake.

"We're all part of a similar brotherhood and when something like this happens, it brings us all together," said Charbonnet, who served in Iraq, from 1990 to 1994.

Charbonnet thought that the back turning at Ramos' funeral was "in bad taste."

"A funeral was not the proper venue for that," said Charbonnet, who added that he respects de Blasio and that irrational emotions are engendering the divide between police and the mayor.

"There's a lot of emotions for all people involved and people like to point the finger," he said. "The mayor is a human being. He has a tough job. I know I wouldn't want it."