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Updated: March 27, 2024, 9:20 AM

Family mourns NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller, shot by ex-con during Queens car stop


As the city continued to reel Tuesday from the slaying of NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller, funeral arrangements were announced for the policeman shot by an ex-con sitting in an SUV at a Queens bus stop — possibly while planning a robbery.

NYPD cops stood shoulder to shoulder Monday night as Diller’s body was taken out of Jamaica Hospital and transported to the morgue, then to a funeral home where thousands of cops were expected to pay their final respects.

“He was walked out honorably, to many tears and salutes,” Diller’s brother-in-law Jonathan McAuley, a fellow NYPD cop, posted on Facebook. “What started out as an everyday car stop instantly became a moment where so many lives would be turned upside down.”

A funeral for the 31-year-old fallen officer has been set for Saturday morning at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Massapequa, L.I., union officials said.

Diller leaves behind a young bride and 1-year-old son. McAuley posted a picture of the baby boy wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words, “My Daddy’s life matters.”

“There are no words to describe how devastated we are that you are gone,” McAuley wrote. “You were a good man and a great father whose shoes can never be filled. I swear to you that I will look after your son as if he were my own.”

Diller, a member of the NYPD’s Queens South Community Response Team, his partner and a sergeant were on Mott Ave. near Smith Place in Far Rockaway when they observed a Kia Soul crossover SUV idling in the bus stop for more than 10 minutes about 5:50 p.m. on Monday, officials said.

“The cop had very good instincts,” said a high-ranking police official who reviewed the officers’ body camera footage of the shooting. “There was something about that car sitting there for as long as it was that didn’t sit right with [Diller].”

Investigators now believe the men inside the SUV, Lindy Jones, 41, and Guy Rivera, 34, were either casing a nearby T-Mobile store or were keeping tabs on someone they wanted to rob when the cops approached and asked them to move the vehicle.

Moments later, bedlam erupted and gunfire was exchanged.

“To those of you out there in the streets, it can be so easy to become wrapped into the moment,” Diller’s brother-in-law wrote to fellow first responders. “To think horrible events like this can’t happen to you. To become focused on making that next arrest or racing to the action. Remember those who love you at those moments.”

Rivera refused Diller’s command to open the passenger side door, according to an NYPD official. When Jones finally complied and popped the locks, Diller tried to open the door, but Rivera twice pulled the door back.

When Diller then managed to yank the door open, Rivera allegedly pulled a gun and shot the officer.

“You can hear [Diller] say, ‘Take your hands out of your pocket,’ ” said the NYPD official who reviewed the body camera footage. “And then he’s shot and you hear him say, ‘I’m shot!’ ”

Diller’s partner opened fire three times in response. A bullet blasted through the closed driver’s side window, flew past Jones sitting behind the wheel and hit Rivera in the back.

Rivera’s gun, which jammed after he fired once, fell to the ground. A second gun was later found in the vehicle, according to police sources.

Diller was shot in the torso underneath his bullet-resistant vest. Despite the mortal wound, he “still stayed in the fight,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said at a news conference announcing Diller’s death Monday night.

“[Diller] was trying to unarm the person that had just shot him as [Diller] was on the floor,” Kenny said. “The gun hit the ground and as the perpetrator was still reaching for it, this cop was able to grab it although he was still shot.”

The sergeant also joined the scramble for the gun, a police official said.

Pastor Douglas Woodall of the Canaan Land Ministries told the Daily News on Tuesday that he saw the slaying from his second-floor office window.

“To see it happen so close is shocking,” said Woodall, who added that he works on an anti-violence initiative.

“Something has to be done,” he said. “This is not known as a hotspot for crime.”

Cops closed down sections of the Van Wyck Expressway as Diller was rushed to Jamaica Hospital and into surgery, but he couldn’t be saved.

The officer joined the NYPD three years ago. His family at his Massapequa Park, L.I.,  home was too grief-stricken to speak with reporters Tuesday.

Mayor Adams on Monday called Diller’s death “a senseless act of violence.”

“We lost one of our sons today and it is extremely painful,” he said. “It’s extremely painful.”

Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Hendry said Diller confronted Rivera “knowing he was putting his life at risk.”

“[He did this] knowing that he had a family waiting for him at home, but he did it to protect the people of this city,” Hendry said Monday night, wondering what emboldened Rivera to pull a weapon.

“Why did this violent individual with a gun have no fear to shoot a New York City police officer?” he continued. “These attacks on New York City police officers have to end right now!”

Rivera is expected to recover and Jones, the driver of the Kia Soul, was taken into custody, police said. A gun was recovered at the scene.

Rivera underwent surgery after the shooting and will likely suffer from permanent nerve damage, according to his mother.

“This is a nightmare,” Keshia Gilyard told The News. “I left work to go see him but they wouldn’t let me.”

The woman said Rivera was distrustful of law enforcement after multiple stints in prison.

“He might have thought they were trying to hurt him and something snapped,” said Gilyard, 57.

Asked how she feels about Diller’s family, she said, “I’ve been praying all day.”

An X-ray of Rivera later revealed he had a small shiv, a makeshift blade, hidden in his buttocks, the police official said.

Charges against the two men were pending Tuesday.

Rivera has been arrested by the NYPD 21 times, including for nine felonies, police sources said.

He was released from prison in 2021 after serving nearly five years for drug dealing, records show. He was also locked up for assault in 2011 and released in 2014.

While locked up, he was arrested in prison in 2016 for assaulting a corrections officer. Cops charged him with committing a hate crime, although it wasn’t immediately disclosed why the bias charge was included.

Monday was Rivera’s first arrest since his release from prison three years ago, cops said.

Jones served more than nine years in prison on attempted murder and robbery charges, records show.

He was paroled in 2013. It ended three years later.

Jones was arrested on weapon charges about 12:30 a.m. last April 22 when cops allegedly found a loaded pistol in his white Infiniti while it was parked on Beach 47th St., about a mile and a half from where Monday’s shooting occurred. Jones admitted the car and a cell phone next to the gun were his but didn’t cop to the gun.

At his arraignment, a judge agreed to prosecutors’ demand that he be held on $75,000 bail, but declined their request that he be fitted with an ankle monitor. He’d been due back in court Monday in that case.

“April 2023 — less than a year, gun charge, he’s back on the street,” Adams said. “This is what you call not a crime problem but a recidivist problem. The same bad people doing bad things to good people. Less than a year, he’s back on the streets.”

Besides the gun arrest, Jones has been busted two other times since 2020 but the cases were sealed, officials said.

As Diller’s family tries to figure out how to go on without the young cop, the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, also known as Answer the Call, will be providing the family with $50,000 to offset any immediate financial concerns. The fund will also provide the family with a $10,000 yearly stipend.

“We believe the best way to honor our fallen heroes is to help the families they have left behind,” Lauren Profeta, executive director of Answer the Call, said Tuesday.