Staten Island Advance
updated January 03, 2015 at 5:13 PM

Police officers from across the country attend wake for Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn

By Vincent Barone | 

Staten Island Advance/Vincent Barone
All police officers in attendance for slain NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu's wake on Saturday wore black bands over their badges. Click here for more photos.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Police officers from as far as Georgia and Los Angeles arrived in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, on Saturday for the wake of slain NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu.

The 1200 block of 65th Street was adorned with dozens of signs supporting the NYPD and Liu, the first Chinese-American NYPD officer shot and killed in the line of duty.

On telephone poles and street lights, signs read "We love NYPD" and "Hero Det. Liu," written in marker. A tarpaulin sign reading "Officer Wenjian Liu will live in our hearts forever" was hung across the street from the Aievoli Funeral home, where Liu's wake began at 1 p.m.

About 300 police officers, including 100 from Liu's 84th Precinct were the first to pay their respects to Liu on a gray, rainy Saturday. Thousands were expected to attend throughout the day. Of the officers in attendance were 20 members of the LAPD.

"We're here to show our unconditional love and support for Liu and the NYPD," LAPD Officer Hannu Tarjamo said. "When it happened [in New York] it happens to us. It's a loss to the LAPD, as well as officers across the country. It doesn't matter if it happens here, or in L.A. or Louisiana. It's an act of savagery that should be condemned by society."

Officers Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot to death, "execution-style," by Ismaaiyl Brinsley while the two were working overtime as part of an anti-terrorism drill in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Dec. 20. Brinsley, 28, who had a history of mental illness, had shot his girlfriend in Baltimore earlier that day before traveling to New York to carry out the police assassinations.

Police Commissioner William Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived shortly after the wake began. The two walked in together and the handful of officers standing guard outside of the funeral home stood at attention. None showed any visual disapproval of the mayor.

A San Diego sheriff described the scene inside the funeral home as somber and very quiet. The sheriff said that Liu was dressed in uniform for an open casket. The sheriff said he was struck by how many flowers were on display inside.

Liu will be laid to rest on Sunday at the same location in a traditional Chinese ceremony led by Buddhist monks. Following officers' back-turning during de Blasio's eulogy at Ramos' funeral last week, Bratton has called for officers to avoid "inappropriate" behavior during Liu's ceremonies.

In a memo sent to NYPD precincts, Bratton said "A hero's funeral is about grieving, not grievance...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."

Luda Kaplan, whose son-in-law is a retired NYPD officer, slammed de Blasio's response to the Eric Garner grand jury.

"The blood of [Liu and Ramos] is on his hands," said Ms. Kaplan, echoing Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch's sentiments. She said she supports the back-turning "100 percent."

Ms. Kaplan held a sign of a heart drawn in marker along with the letters "NY" and "PD" written on each side.

She sympathized with the families of Liu and Ramos. "Every morning when my son-in-law left for work, we wondered whether he'd come home," she said.

Activist Calvin Hunt, of Harlem, brought his two children, ages 7 and 10, to Liu's wake to speak out against police threats.

"With all these death threats, what kind of attitude are police supposed to walk around with?" Hunt said. "The death threats need to stop. I'm against police brutality, but this is senseless. Two lives were lost...Nobody wins."

Navy veteran Felder Charbonnet, who recently moved to Dyker Heights from New Orleans, watched an eight-motorcycle motorcade of Georgia sheriffs arrive at the wake.

"We're all part of a similar brotherhood and when something like this happens, it brings us all together," said Charbonnet, who served in Iraq, from 1990 to 1994.

Charbonnet thought that the back turning at Ramos' funeral was "in bad taste."

"A funeral was not the proper venue for that," said Charbonnet, who added that he respects de Blasio and that irrational emotions are engendering the divide between police and the mayor.

"There's a lot of emotions for all people involved and people like to point the finger," he said. "The mayor is a human being. He has a tough job. I know I wouldn't want it."