New York Daily News

Updated: July 12, 2017, 1:24 AM

  

 

Thousands mourn loss of NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia at Bronx funeral; ‘She passed with love in her heart’

By CHELSIA ROSE MARCIUS, ROCCO PARASCANDOLA, LARRY MCSHANE

Genesis Villella, center, and twins Delilah and Peter Vega, children of slain NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia, speak during her funeral at the World Changers Church, Tuesday.   (RICHARD DREW/AP)

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Genesis Villella, tears rolling down her face and her arms wrapped around her young siblings, delivered a heartbreaking account of their mother’s final goodbye.

By the time she finished, the 4,000 or so mourners inside a Bronx church wept along with her at the deeply emotional funeral for executed NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia.

As the clock neared midnight on the Fourth of July, Familia gave her daughter two big hugs while Villella pinched her mom’s cheeks.

“And I said, ‘Can I have one more hug?’ ” Villella recalled as she wept. “And she said, ‘Of course you can.’ And I said, ‘I love you so much, mom. I’ll see you tomorrow.’”

The 20-year-old never saw her mother alive again — but she clings to their final encounter.

“I know when she went to work that night, when she sat in that (NYPD) truck, she had me and my siblings in her heart,” the daughter declared inside the World Changers Church.

NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia was shot and killed in the Bronx on July 5, 2017.  (NYPD)

“She wasn’t upset or afraid or nervous,” Villella said, clutching 12-year-old twins Peter and Delilah to her side. “I know she passed with love in her heart. With our love in her heart.”

The tears gave way to cheers as family, friends and fellow cops burst into applause. Nearly 25,000 cops from 85 police agencies turned out for the farewell, spilling out onto the Grand Concourse.

Son Peter, dressed in white like his sisters, brought smiles with his advice to the crowd: “I want you guys to say, ‘I love you,’ to anybody you see.”

Many followed his advice, turning to address their church neighbors. The mourners rose for an earlier ovation when Police Commissioner James O’Neill, whose voice cracked several times, posthumously promoted Familia to detective.

“Nothing I can say will ever bring your mom back,” O’Neill said. “But I can make you this promise: Your mom didn’t die in vain. Your mom’s legacy will never fade from importance or memory.”

Several hundred cops, in a scene reminiscent of the police union’s public spat with Mayor de Blasio after two officers were slain in 2014, turned to face away from the church when Hizzoner’s eulogy played outside via a public address system.

The jam-packed funeral came on the 12th anniversary of Familia’s NYPD swearing-in, the realization of a lifelong dream.

“When I was a little kid I was just so proud and excited that my mom was a cop,” Villella said. “She’s so cool. I was, and still am, proud of her and the profession that she chose.”

A large photo of a beaming Familia, with an American flag as a backdrop, covered the front of the pulpit. Floral arrangements lined the stage, including one shaped like a badge and another reading “Blue Lives Matter.”

Villella, suddenly the matriarch of her clan, recounted the things she already misses about her mother.

Family members watch as the casket of slain NYPD Office Miosotis Familia is carried during funeral services at World Changers Church New York in the Bronx.   (TODD MAISEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

“I just want to say, ‘Mom, I miss your smile,’” she said. “I miss your big, beautiful brown eyes. They were always so clear and sparkling. I miss your beautiful brown skin that felt like velvet. And I miss your beautiful, black curly hair that looks like mine. But I’m glad that you’re still here with me, with us. I love you, Mom.”

Despite the difficult circumstances, several speakers referred to the funeral as a celebration of Familia’s life.

“We’re here to lay a hero to rest,” said de Blasio. “She was strong, but kind, resourceful and energetic. She embodies the American Dream — a child of immigrants, the first in her family to go to college, a beautiful New York City story.”

The officer’s large extended family, including her 86-year-old mother, Adriana Valoy, took to the stage to share a group hug. Familia’s sister Mercedes, one of 10 siblings, placed a hand over her heart and called for peace.

“We have to show love,” said Mercedes, her tears hidden by sunglasses. “This has to stop. This has to stop. Please, if you see a police officer in blue, hug them and say, ‘Thank you.’ That’s all she would have asked for.”

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill speaks during the funeral of slain Officer Miosotis Familia at the World Changers Church in the Bronx on Tuesday.  (RICHARD DREW/AP)

At the funeral’s end, an NYPD honor guard brought the casket outside the church. The departmental flag draped over the coffin was removed, folded into a triangle and presented to Peter.

O’Neill described the shooter as a “coward” before asking why the execution of Familia didn’t produce more outrage.

“Some people say, ‘That’s their job. That’s what cops signed up for,’” said the emotional commissioner. “Well, let me tell you something. Not one of us ever agreed to be murdered in an act of indefensible hate.

“And not one of us signed up to never return home to our loved ones.”

The 48-year-old Familia was assassinated by a lone gunman who fired from point-blank range as the NYPD veteran sat in the passenger seat of an NYPD mobile command unit parked at E. 183rd St. and Creston Ave. in Fordham Heights last Wednesday.

The 34-year-old killer, who had mental health problems, was then shot and killed by police.

“Mental illness and medication may have played a part — I don’t know,” said O’Neill. “What is certain, however, is that he hated the police.

“I don’t know how else to say it. This was an act of hate, in this case against police officers. The very people who stepped forward and made a promise to protect you, day and night.”

De Blasio addressed both the larger crowd and the slain officer’s children.

“She loved the city and she loved this country because she understood its magic,” the mayor said. “She saw what was possible, what it meant for herself and for her children. She lived for them, but she died for us all.”

Thousands of cops from across the nation arrive for the funeral at World Changers Church. (JAMES KEIVOM/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

The Rev. Barbara Williams-Harris, an NYPD chaplain, was among those encouraging a joyous look back on Familia’s life rather than sadness over her death.

“Can you look at over at somebody and say, ‘We came here to celebrate her life,’” Williams-Harris said. “She’s a hero. We are alive, and her spirit is alive in us.

“We’re also here to uplift this family ... the family of blood, and the family of blue.”

The service began at 10 a.m., with a chorus singing a soulful rendition of “Amazing Grace” as a large video screen flashed photos of a smiling Familia with her three kids, other relatives and friends.

“Our hearts are broken,” said Robert Romano. NYPD assistant chief chaplain. “For now and forever, (she’s) a hero of the New York City Police Department.”