New York Daily News

Updated: January 3, 2015, 12:06 AM

  

 

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton urges officers not to turn backs on Mayor de Blasio at Officer Wenjian Liu's funeral

 

Bratton said those who turned their backs at de Blasio at the funeral last week 'stole the valor, honor and attention' that Officer Ramos deserved. The union that represents the NYPD's captains encouraged their members to turn their backs again, however.

BY NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

    
TOMAS E. GASTON FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS  
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton urged his officers on Friday to show respect for fallen Officer Wenjian Liu at his funeral on Sunday, rather than turn their backs as some did during de Blasio's eulogy at the funeral for Officer Rafael Ramos.  
   
 
NYPD/AP  

The wake for 32-year-old NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu was set for 1-9 p.m. Saturday at the Aievoli Funeral Home in Bensonhurst.

 

NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton called on the city’s cops to show some respect rather than their backs at Sunday’s funeral for slain colleague Wenjian Liu.

Bratton — while stressing there was no direct order or threat of discipline — made it clear he expected better from the city’s Finest when Mayor de Blasio appears at the service.

“A hero’s funeral is about grieving, not grievance,” began the pointed Bratton internal message distributed Friday afternoon to citywide commands.

“I remind you that when you don the uniform of the department, you are bound by the tradition, honor and decency that go with it.”

During last Saturday’s funeral for Officer Rafael Ramos, hundreds of the more than 20,000 assembled cops from New York and around the nation turned their backs on de Blasio as he began to speak.

The mayor’s remarks were beamed to the streets outside the Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens via large video screens, and the cops in the street spun away from the simulcast.

Participants said the demonstration was spontaneous, spreading quickly through the officers in their dress blues along Myrtle Ave. in Glendale.

De Blasio’s conciliatory remembrance of Ramos, the married 42-year-old father of two teen sons, was greeted with stone silence by the officers.

The snub was a repeat of the disdain directed at de Blasio when he arrived at Woodhull Hospital after the two officers were fatally shot in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, on Dec. 20.

The double murder racheted up the animosity between the police unions and City Hall, with Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch saying the mayor had “blood on the hands.”

The lack of funeral etiquette overshadowed the day’s good will toward a fallen colleague and his mourning family, the commissioner said.

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“The country’s consciousness of that funeral has focused on an act of disrespect shown by a portion of those . . . officers,” Bratton wrote. “It was not all the officers, and it was not disrespect directed at Detective Ramos. But all officers were painted by it.”

The commissioner said the mayoral rebuke took the spotlight off the heroic Ramos at a time when he deserved the full respect of his brothers and sisters in blue.

ANDREW LAMBERSON FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Bratton — while stressing there was no direct order or threat of discipline — made it clear he expected better from the city’s Finest when Mayor de Blasio appears at the service.

“It stole the valor, honor and attention that rightfully belonged to the memory of Detective Rafael Ramos’ life and sacrifice,” he said. “That was not the intent, I know. But it was the result.”

The union representing the NYPD’s captains has already encouraged its members to eschew turning their backs on de Blasio in favor of “cold, steely silence.”

The Detectives Endowment Association said it would not issue any directive to its members on how to behave at the funeral.

Liu and Ramos were killed during an ambush by a cop-hating gunman who traveled from the Baltimore area to New York with the intent to attack police. After killing the cops, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, ran to a nearby subway station and shot himself to death.

DEBBIE EGAN-CHIN/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Police Commissioner Bratton said that the display some officers did at the funeral for Officer Rafael Ramos 'stole the valor, honor and attention' that Ramos deserved.

“Cops have feelings too and are entitled to express them thanks to the same First Amendment right exercised by the protesters,” said DEA head Mike Palladino.

There was no immediate comment from Lynch, whose tirades against de Blasio increased tensions between the two sides.

The wake for 32-year-old Liu was set for 1-9 p.m. Saturday at the Aievoli Funeral Home in Bensonhurst. The Sunday funeral, with FBI Director James Coney expected to attend, begins at 10 a.m.

VIOREL FLORESCU/NORTH JERSEY /LANDOV

'A hero’s funeral is about grieving, not grievance,' NYPD Commissioner William Bratton told his officers in a message distributed Friday. The union for the NYPD's captains does not share the same sentiment, however, encouraging their members to turn their backs on de Blasio.

The farewell comes more than two weeks after the shooting as officials arranged for Liu’s relatives from China to get to New York for the funeral.

The officer is a native of Guangzhou, China, and came to New York with his family in 1994. He joined the NYPD in December 2007 after working as an auxiliary cop in Brooklyn. Liu is survived by his wife of just three months, along with a large extended family that relied on his NYPD salary for support.

A steady stream of neighbors, colleagues and concerned citizens stopped by the Liu home in recent days, creating a makeshift memorial to the 7-year veteran with flowers, cards and pictures.

The NYPD and the first-term mayor are at odds over a number of issues that the city cops perceive as a lack of support from City Hall. Both sides met on Tuesday in an effort to resolve the rift as de Blasio started his second year in office, but there was no public truce after the get-together.

The mayor declined to apologize, and a source indicated de Blasio had no intention of giving the NYPD a mea culpa. The heads of five police unions spent 21/2 tense hours with the mayor, expressing their anger about some of his public comments after a Staten Island grand jury voted not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Eric Garner’s death. Garner, 43, in the midst of being arrested for peddling untaxed cigarettes, died in the clutches of a police chokehold.

Cops were infuriated when de Blasio — after the grand jury decision — said he warned his biracial son Dante to be careful in dealing with the NYPD.

When the mayor addressed newly installed cops at a Madison Square Garden graduation ceremony, he was booed as about a dozen attendees turned their backs toward him.

De Blasio, in his emotional eulogy last week, made sure to hail the NYPD as “the finest police force in this country” before extending condolences to Ramos’ colleagues.

The police commissioner invoked the Ramos funeral as an example of the department at its best — at least until cops turned on the mayor.

“The New York City Police Department buried a hero,” he said. “His family witnessed the kind of love that only his second family in blue could display.”

Bratton — who blasted last weekend’s police behavior as “very inappropriate” — said it was important for the department to put aside the lingering spat and focus on honoring Liu.

“On Sunday, we will gather together again, with the rest of New York city and law enforcement officials nationwide, to mourn for Detective First Grade Wenjian Liu,” said Bratton, who posthumously promoted the slain officers.

“We gather to support his parents, his widow, and everyone who is there to remember a life tragically cut short.”

Bratton's statement:

A hero's funeral is about grieving, not grievance.

Last Saturday, the New York City Police Department buried a hero. Tens of thousands of officers from our Department and hundreds of other departments came to show respect for Detective First Grade Rafael Ramos. His family witnessed the kind of love that only his second family in blue could display.

But for the last seven days, the city’s and the country’s consciousness of that funeral has focused on an act of disrespect shown by a portion of those tens of thousands of officers. It was not all the officers, and it was not disrespect directed at Detective Ramos. But all officers were painted by it, and it stole the valor, honor, and attention that rightfully belonged to the memory of Detective Rafael Ramos’s life and sacrifice.

That was not the intent, I know. But it was the result.

On Sunday, we will gather together again, with the rest of New York City and law enforcement officials nationwide, to mourn for Detective First Grade Wenjian Liu. We gather to support his parents, his widow, and everyone who is there to remember a life tragically cut short.

The assassination of Detectives Liu and Ramos was an attack on us all. As a cop, one who lived and worked through the assassination threats of the 1970s, I understand that emotions are high. 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.

lmcshane@nydailynews.com