Newsday
Updated January 4, 2015 10:27 PM


Hundreds from NYPD turn backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio at funeral of slain officer Wenjian Liu

By NICOLE FULLER AND EMILY NGO  nicole.fuller@newsday.com,emily.ngo@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.

Hundreds of NYPD officers, joined by cops paying their respects from departments nationwide, again turned their backs to Mayor Bill de Blasio in silent protest as he delivered a eulogy Sunday at the funeral of their fallen comrade.

Their actions ignored a request by Police Commissioner William Bratton to refrain from public displays of discontent.

Packing the streets for more than a mile from the funeral home in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, officers faced away from the mayor's image on large television screens set up along 65th Street to broadcast the funeral service to the overflow crowd.

Wenjian Liu, 32, was memorialized inside with a blend of Eastern and Western traditions. Liu and his partner, Rafael Ramos, were promoted posthumously from police officer to detective first grade.

Many other officers among the thousands of attendees, particularly those standing closest to the Aievoli Funeral Home where Liu's family and city officials had assembled, faced the screens somberly, listening to the mayor's remarks.

"For a mayor, there is no more solemn ceremony than this -- mourning a man whose life was taken while fighting for all that is decent and good," de Blasio said.

Bratton in a weekend memo told NYPD officers that Liu's wake and funeral are "about grieving, not grievance."

Hundreds of cops had also turned their backs to de Blasio at the Dec. 27 funeral of Ramos in Glendale, Queens. Dozens did so for the first time when de Blasio arrived at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn on Dec. 20, the day a gunman who had posted anti-police rants on social media shot and killed Ramos and Liu.

NYPD Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch has blamed de Blasio for supporting demonstrators who took to city streets protesting against police brutality rather than backing the NYPD. At the hospital Dec. 20, Lynch said "blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall."

After attending Sunday's funeral, Lynch defended his members' actions.

"Police officers feel that City Hall has turned their backs on them, and we have a right to have our opinion heard like everyone else that protests out in the city," he said. "We did it respectfully out here in the street, not inside the church, not during the service."

In response to the back-turning, de Blasio spokesman Phil Walzak in a statement said, "Our city and this Administration is focused on doing everything possible to support the grieving families of our fallen heroes."

Camille Sanfilippo, 59, a retired detective from Staten Island who was among those who turned their backs, said, "This mayor has no respect for us. Why should we have respect for him?"

Easing the tensions between City Hall and the NYPD could be accomplished if de Blasio offered "a real apology," Sanfilippo said.

Laurie Carson, who retired from the NYPD as a sergeant after 20 years of service, said she understands Bratton's position because "he works at the behest of the mayor."

"I don't think it's disrespectful to the family at all," Carson, 58, of New Jersey, said of protesting. "It's the only way to show our displeasure with the mayor."

John Mangan, 61, of Levittown, earlier in the day staked out a spot outside the funeral home with a sign that read, "God Bless the NYPD" and "Dump de Blasio."

Mangan, a retired 20-year veteran of the NYPD who said he also attended Ramos' funeral, said, "I agree with turning their backs. The mayor turned his back on the police department a long time ago."

Bratton has staunchly defended his boss, de Blasio, appearing on Sunday talk shows last month to denounce the officers' protests at Ramos' funeral as "very inappropriate."

With John Asbury, Valerie Bauman and Alison Fox