New York Times
May 8, 2015


Politics Are Set Aside as Thousands Mourn Officer Brian Moore

By KIM BARKER

SEAFORD, N.Y. — This time, politics was not on display at a funeral for a fallen New York City police officer. No officers turned their backs to Mayor Bill de Blasio and no one voiced support for protests that have riven communities from Ferguson, Mo., to Baltimore.

Instead, police officers, family members, friends and neighbors came together to pay their respects to Brian Moore, a young, promising officer who had long dreamed of being on the force and who died on Monday, two days after he was shot in the face by a man he had stopped while in his unmarked police car in Queens.

Hats in hand, white gloves at the ready and wearing their finest uniforms, thousands of officers walked down Hicksville Road here before the funeral, past a Jiffy Lube, a miniature golf course and the telephone poles tied with blue ribbons, to line up near St. James Roman Catholic Church, where Officer Moore had received holy communion and where he was remembered on Friday.

Everyone who spoke during the funeral talked about the sacrifices that police officers make every day, even amid a national debate over police conduct. Officer Moore, 25, an apple-cheeked Baltimore Orioles fan who was always ready with a joke, even for New York Mets’ fans, was the latest reminder.

“Brian’s death comes at a time of great challenge in this country,” Commissioner William J. Bratton, who has been attending police funerals for more than 44 years, told mourners, his voice occasionally breaking. “For police officers across the country, we’re increasingly bearing the brunt of loud criticism. We cannot be defined by that criticism. Because what is lost in the shouting and the rhetoric, is the context of what we do. A handful of recent incidents, fewer than a dozen, have wrongfully come to define the hundreds of millions of interactions cops have every year.”

Over the past year, the police have been accused of using excessive force against unarmed black men across the country, from New York to Washington State. The day before Officer Moore was shot, six Baltimore police officers were charged in the death of Freddie Gray, which set off violent protests in Baltimore last month.

New York police officers have also been victims during these turbulent months. Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were gunned down in Brooklyn shortly before Christmas, assassinated by a man who said he was targeting the police. At those officers’ funerals hundreds of New York officers, in an act of protest, turned their backs to Mr. de Blasio, who had been criticized as unsupportive of the police.

But Officer Moore’s death, the first of a New York officer since Officers Liu and Ramos, was different. He was killed in a much more typical way for a police officer: He was trying to engage with someone who appeared to be behaving suspiciously.

On Saturday evening, Officer Moore and his partner, who were part of an anti-crime unit in the 105th Precinct in Queens, patrolled undercover, looking for burglary suspects. From their unmarked car, the officers tried to question a man whom they had seen adjusting his waistband. The man turned and fired a gun. A bullet hit Officer Moore in the face.

At the funeral, Mr. de Blasio spoke quietly, saying Officer Moore was a rising star.

“We’re all gathered in one purpose, to mourn the loss of a great man — a young man, but a very great man — Officer Brian Moore,” Mayor de Blasio said. “And we all are heartbroken, as are the people of our city.”

Patrick J. Lynch, the president of New York City’s largest police union, who has frequently clashed with Mr. de Blasio, said relations had improved between the police and the mayor. He also said that he believed anti-police sentiments may decrease, even nationally, after Officer Moore’s slaying.

Victor Galante, a retired New York City officer, said he saw only two types of people in the world: good guys and bad guys. “There is no white or black, no blue, yellow, red, purple,” he said. “There are those who do good, and those who do bad.”

Officer Moore, he said, “was a really good officer who was killed by a really bad guy.”

In a town where so many have a relative or a friend who wears a badge, the overwhelming mood was grief for Officer Moore, badge No. 469, who was promoted posthumously to detective on Friday. Officers stood in straight rows, lining up department by department outside the church, stretching for blocks. More than 100 officers on motorcycle — from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Newark and seemingly every police department in between — escorted the hearse to the church.

Officer Moore had always wanted to be a police officer. It was in his blood: His father, Raymond, was on the force, as were his uncle and cousins. He was so young that he still lived with his father in North Massapequa, N.Y., yet in less than five years on the job, he had made more than 150 arrests and earned department service medals for meritorious police work.

He was remembered Friday for his sense of humor and his smile. Commissioner Bratton even got a laugh when he mentioned that the only photograph of Officer Moore without a grin was his official department photo, where smiling is frowned upon. Office Moore liked to tease, and he always had a joke.

Mr. Bratton told a story about how Officer Moore recently dropped by his grandmother’s house for an impromptu visit: “Grandma, I thought this was a party,” he told her. “Where’s the shots?”

He made videos of himself singing to the radio, sharing them with friends and family. He devoted his Mondays off to his mother, Irene, and went to baseball games with his father. After the funeral, his father hugged his daughter, Officer Moore’s sister, Christine, and sobbed into her hair. 

On the streets outside the church, neighbors wore New York Police Department T-shirts and spoke of a community that bled blue. Officer Moore’s high school has an athletic field named for Edward R. Byrne, a New York police officer who was fatally shot in 1988. The two men were remembered in the same church.

Jeanne Derleth, whose son is a police officer, came to the funeral with her sister and niece. Like Officer Moore, Ms. Derleth’s son was 25, and he still lived at home. The two young men had even attended middle school and high school together.

“The story and the age alone was a shot in the heart,” said Ms. Derleth, 49. “You worry every day if he’s going to come home. You wait for a phone call, and then you ask, ‘When are you coming home?’ This could happen to any of us. My heart just keeps thinking of his mother, and what it means this weekend. I mean, it’s Mother’s Day. I can’t even imagine.”

Al Baker, Marc Santora, John Surico and Rebecca White contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on May 9, 2015, on page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: Politics Are Set Aside as Thousands Mourn a Fallen Comrade.