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December 27, 2014 | 9:17am  

 

23,000 cops mourn slain brother at funeral

By Kevin Fasick, Georgett Roberts and Bill Sanderson

Photo: Paul Martinka

From across the continent, they came to Queens to pay their respects to a hero in blue, brutally gunned down with his partner for no reason other than he wore an NYPD badge.

Clad in dress blues and white gloves in the bright light of a sunny, cool Saturday morning, 23,000 police officers from San Diego to Canada, and every corner of New York, gathered at Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale to pay their final respects to Officer Rafael Ramos.

Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu were shot dead last Saturday by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a madman bent on avenging the chokehold death of Eric Garner in police custody. Brinsley blasted four shots point-blank at the officers as they sat in a patrol car in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton eulogized the fallen officer, a man beloved as a doting dad and devout Christian.

“When an assassin’s bullet targeted two officers, it targeted this city and it touched the soul of an entire nation,” Biden said.

Outside the church, the sea of blue stood five rows deep, filling the streets several blocks in every direction — the largest gathering ever for an NYPD funeral, officials said.

The somber proceedings were not devoid of politics and protest. As de Blasio spoke, thousands of officers on Myrtle Avenue turned their backs to the video screens and speakers carrying the mayor’s eulogy, a sign the rank-and-file’s anger at the mayor’s perceived lack of support and dangerous rhetoric still simmers.

In other developments Saturday:

Police were investigating 40 threats against cops as of Saturday. The threats have resulted in nine arrests so far.

Around 200 protesters defied de Blasio’s moratorium on demonstrations and marched in East New York to protest the death of Akai Gurley, who died Nov. 20 when a rookie cop accidentally shot him in the darkened stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project.

Another member of the NYPD family shot dead on the job was laid to rest in Florida. Tarpon Springs Officer Charles Kondek served five years with the NYPD before he moved to Florida 17 years ago. He was killed last week while responding to a noise complaint.

Biden drew applause by saying it is for good reason that the city’s police officers are known as New York’s Finest.

“That is not an idle phrase,” Biden said. “This is probably the finest police department in the world … They earned that phrase, because of the sacred trust they took on.”

Biden — who lost his first wife and his 1-year-old daughter in a car accident in 1972 — addressed words of comfort to Ramos’ mother.

“No child should predecease a parent. My heart aches for you,” Biden said. “I also know from experience the times will come, the time will come when Rafael’s memory will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. “My prayer for you is that it will come sooner than later.”

Ramos “didn’t just have a Bible in his locker, he lived it in his heart,” Biden said. “He was a cop for all, all, the right reasons.”

Gov. Cuomo lightened the mood by mentioning that Ramos’ sons, Jaden and Justin, are Mets fans, “which tells us a lot about them. It means they are really tough, really committed and really, really, really loyal,” he said.

He also praised the police department.

“You represent public safety and law and order,” the governor said. “And an attack on the NYPD is an attack on all of us. It is an attack on our system of justice …

“No one, no group is above the law and no intimidation and no threats and no politics will ever change that … The threats against New York’s police are an insult to law-abiding New Yorkers and they will not be tolerated, they will be investigated and they will be prosecuted.”

De Blasio said he was extending condolences on behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers.

“Our hearts are aching today. You can feel it physically, feel it deeply. New York City has lost a hero,” the mayor said.

His speech drew tepid applause, far less than that earned by other speakers.

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Police Commissioner Bratton said he had attended “way too many” funerals for fallen officers.

He addressed part of his eulogy to Ramos’s sons. “We’re here because your dad was assassinated,” he said. “It’s a different word than murder. It speaks of the prominence of the person killed.

“Your dad was assassinated because he represented something. He represented the men and the women of the NYPD. He represented the blue thread that holds our city together when disorder might pull it apart.

“But he was also your dad — a good man who tried hard and sacrificed and had a desire to serve.”

To thunderous applause, Bratton formally promoted both fallen officers to Detective First Grade, and held up the gold shield of the prestigious rank. The promotion will mean a larger pension for Ramos’ widow, Maritza. Bratton also named Ramos, 40, who was studying for the ministry, an honorary chaplain of the 84th Precinct. Biden, de Blasio, Cuomo, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani were among those who stood by as Officer Ramos’ casket was carried from the church.

Ramos’ widow walked behind the casket. Ramos’ eldest son, Justin, a student at Bowdoin College in Maine, wore the jacket from his father’s dress uniform and fought back tears.

The white, green and blue NYPD flag that draped the coffin was handed to Maritza Ramos before the casket was loaded into a hearse for the trip to nearby Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Accompanying the hearse was a huge procession that included a record 260 police motorcycles and 93 bagpipers. Motorcycle cops from New Orleans, Newark, Fort Lee, NJ, and Stamford and Fairfield, CT, among other cities, led the cortege, which included five MTA buses, two FDNY ambulances, and several NYPD trucks and patrol cars. Ten helicopters did a flyover.

Police officers lined both sides of the roadway as the procession passed.

Canadian Mounties, Texas state troopers, and officers from Mississippi, Ohio, California, Florida and elsewhere showed up to honor Ramos and show support for their NYPD comrades.

During the funeral service, a painted portrait of Officer Ramos was displayed on an easel outside the church, next to bouquets of flowers and several candles.

Those who could not get inside the church watched the ceremony on giant TV screens, and a sea of blue extended for blocks.

On every officer’s mind was the anti-police sentiment that has built up after months of protests over the the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Garner homicide in Staten Island. The officers are also concerned about de Blasio’s support for the demonstrators and what they deem his lack of respect for cops.

“I think the mayor should definitely have the backs of all law enforcement,” said Officer Joseph Pelchat, 30, a police officer in New London, CT. “If you don’t have that support — when someone of that importance doesn’t have your back it can really be damaging.”

Five officers from Kenosha, WI attended the funeral. They left home at 5 p.m. Friday and arrived in Queens at 5 a.m. Saturday.

Kenosha Detective Pete Deates was struck by the senselessness of Ramos’ death. He said, “He was out doing his job and he died for no other reason than someone wanted to kill two cops.”

Funeral arrangements for Liu are not yet complete. “The mourning is not over for us,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. “We still have to show for our brother police officer Liu. We ask all to come back again and show the same respect to our next family of heroes.”

Additional reporting by Shawn Cohen, Aaron Short, Larry Celona, Amber Jamieson and Kirstan Conley