New York Daily News

Updated: January 4, 2015, 2:33 AM

  

 

Relatives weep at slain NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu's wake, NYPD cops do not turn backs on Bill de Blasio

 

Police officers and mourners lined up for blocks to pay their respects to the fallen officer from Brooklyn. Cops were told on Friday by NYPD Commissioner Bratton not to do any displays of displeasure towards de Blasio, that the wake was for 'grieving, not grievance.'

BY EVIE LIU, JAN RANSOM, LARRY MCSHANE

Joe Marino/New York Daily News
Liu's father Wei Tang Liu (pictured) appeared on the verge of breaking down after arriving with an NYPD escort.
Joe Marino/New York Daily News
Mourners said some family members were in tears as they greeted the stream of guests.
PETER FOLEY/EPA
New York City Police Officers from the 84th Precinct depart the wake of Officer Liu.

It was a day where everybody paid their respects.

Mayor de Blasio, snubbed last week by the NYPD, received salutes from city cops on a snowy Saturday as he arrived for the jam-packed Brooklyn wake honoring Officer Wenjian Liu.

The slain cop’s sobbing widow sat inconsolably near her husband’s casket inside the funeral home as the cops outside heeded Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s call for civility.

Liu was laid out in his uniform, with his NYPD badge and hat placed on his body inside the open casket. Candles and incense burned nearby, and a white banner held a message in Chinese: “His bravery is still with us.”

One overwrought relative wept so hard that she nearly fell to the floor and needed help to move along as a steady line of mourners offered their condolences.

Watch the Daily News Photo Gallery of the wake and funeral of P.O. Wenjian Liu.

The mayor appeared at 1:12 p.m. — about 20 minutes after Bratton — wearing a light gray suit on a dark gray afternoon.

Both men walked past a handmade sign featuring American flags, a silver badge and a simple message: “HERO Det. Liu.” A small bow made from blue police crime scene tape topped the display.

The mayor patted Bratton on the shoulder before the two men headed inside the Aievoli Funeral Home in Bensonhurst to honor the murdered 32-year-old newlywed.

The mayor “went in there, he paid his respects to the family,” said de Blasio spokesman Phil Walzak. He had no details on what was said when de Blasio met with Liu’s relatives.

A somber Bratton was accompanied by his wife, former Court TV anchor Rikki Klieman.

Barry Williams for New York Daily News
Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton arrive at the wake of slain Officer Liu on Saturday.
JOHN MINCHILLO/AP
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch, center left, pays his respects at the wake of New York Police Department officer Wenjian Liu at Aievoli Funeral Home in Brooklyn.
JOHN MINCHILLO/AP
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo leaves the wake of Officer Wenjian Liu on Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn.
PETER FOLEY/EPA
Police officers arrive at the wake of New York Police Officer Wenjian Liu, outside the Aievoli Funeral Home in Brooklyn.
Prayer card handed out to mourners at Officer Liu's wake held at the Aievoli Funeral Home in Brooklyn.

The mayor appeared at 1:12 p.m. — about 20 minutes after Bratton — wearing a light gray suit on a dark gray afternoon.

Both men walked past a handmade sign featuring American flags, a silver badge and a simple message: “HERO Det. Liu.” A small bow made from blue police crime scene tape topped the display.

The mayor patted Bratton on the shoulder before the two men headed inside the Aievoli Funeral Home in Bensonhurst to honor the murdered 32-year-old newlywed.

The mayor “went in there, he paid his respects to the family,” said de Blasio spokesman Phil Walzak. He had no details on what was said when de Blasio met with Liu’s relatives.

A somber Bratton was accompanied by his wife, former Court TV anchor Rikki Klieman.

CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS

More than 1,000 officers gathered outside the Brooklyn funeral home on a wintry afternoon before the wake began. Their numbers swelled throughout the day.

They entered after the first group inside: The officers of the 84th Precinct, where Liu and fellow slain Officer Rafael Ramos worked before their Dec. 20 executions in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Neither de Blasio nor Bratton addressed the media after spending roughly 15 minutes with the Liu family. The slain officer’s widow, Pei Xia Chen, was inside along with her husband’s parents.

Chen placed a yellow flower basket with ribbons to her spouse’s right, along with a message in Chinese: “To my husband ... the noble spirit will live forever.”

Liu’s father appeared on the verge of breaking down after arriving with an NYPD escort. Mourners said some family members were in tears as they greeted the stream of guests.

There were wall-to-wall flowers and wreaths inside the funeral home, and pictures of Liu in his NYPD blues all around. The mourning family was dressed in black.

Joe Lhota, the GOP mayoral hopeful who lost to de Blasio, was among the other early attendees at the eight-hour wake. Gov. Cuomo, just two days after his own father died, arrived a bit later with girlfriend Sandra Lee.

“Our thoughts and prayers go to the Liu family and our entire NYPD,” the governor said.

Mourners received a small prayer card with a photo of Liu beneath his posthumously awarded detective’s badge, with an American flag as the backdrop on its front.

“In Loving Memory of Detective Wen Jian Liu 1982-2014,” read the flip side above a prayer for police officers.

More than 1,000 officers gathered outside the Brooklyn funeral home on a wintry afternoon before the wake began. Their numbers swelled throughout the day.

Cops from around the country, including from San Francisco and Fresno, Calif., were among those mourning the seven-year NYPD veteran.

“It’s just a fellow police officer killed in the line of duty,” said Officer Wayne Lok, at the wake with 20 other members of the San Francisco police force.

“I just came out to show my respects and support the family.”

The line to get inside the funeral stretched two blocks within an hour of the doors opening, with somber mourners huddling beneath umbrellas.

Doors and trees throughout the neighborhood were festooned with blue ribbons and American flags. Signs in both English and Chinese honored the slain officer.

“Officer Liu will live in our heart forever,” read one large banner, written in Chinese and hung outside a local bagel shop.

“Our prayers are with you,” read a banner in English outside a nearby church.

A large number of mourners joined the long blue line of waiting cops. Among them was Yang Han, 52, who lives near the house that Liu shared with his wife and parents.

“He lived in my neighborhood,” the Brooklynite said sadly. “He worked for the whole city. He didn’t cause any problems. His service is for everybody.”

Wayne Entress, 61, a retired New York State parole officer, made a three-hour trip to Brooklyn for the wake.

“I came here to pay my respects,” he said.

Victor Perez, 38, brought his nephew to the neighborhood to see what was happening. Perez expressed his hope that something good can come from the double homicide.

“Hopefully it’s a new year and we can make a fresh start,” he said. “The police officers got to work with the community. And we have to work with the police officers.”

One local woman stood silently holding a sign that declared, “I (heart) NYPD.”

The sendoff for Liu was delayed as authorities arranged for the Chinese-American officer’s relatives from China to attend the wake and the Sunday funeral.

The funeral for Liu was set for the same Brooklyn funeral home. It will include traditional elements of both an NYPD and a Chinese funeral, including Buddhist monks and a eulogy by a police chaplain.

FBI Director James Comey was expected among those at the service for the young officer.

One day before the wake, Bratton issued a citywide internal NYPD message reminding cops that the wake and funeral were “about grieving, not grievance.”

The pointed missive ended with a terse reminder: “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.”

One cop at the scene said the commissioner’s message was received by the rank and file.

“It was just him saying what he thought was the right thing to do,” the officer said. “It’s a time and a place for everything.”

Cops gathered in the streets outside the Queens funeral for Ramos on Dec. 27 turned their backs when a video screen showed the mayor speaking.

The gesture was just the latest volley in the bitter feud between the first-term mayor and police unions.

The cops feel the liberal Democrat de Blasio has shown a lack of support for his police department with some of his words and actions.

The mayor was booed last week when addressing the NYPD’s newest cops at a Madison Square Garden graduation, and cops also turned their backs on de Blasio at Woodhull Hospital on the day the two officers were murdered.

But there were signs of a thaw in recent days. The two sides met Tuesday in the first step at reaching detente, and de Blasio has spoken effusively about the NYPD as “the finest police force in this country.” 

jransom@nydailynews.com