NY Daily News: January 4, 2015 - Before his final shift ended in tragedy, Officer Wenjian Liu always called his dad to let him know he was all right.
On Dec. 20, that phone call never came, and the city lost a cop eulogized Sunday as a hardworking, humble family man who sought the American Dream through the NYPD.
“No words can express my sadness,” Wei Tang Liu said Sunday through tears at his only son’s funeral.
“He called me every day before he finished work, to assure me that he is safe, and to tell me, ‘Dad, I’m coming home today. You can stop worrying now.’ ”
Liu, 32, was remembered as a fisherman and a good cook. He also was a Chinese immigrant inspired to join the force after the 9/11 attacks. Seven years ago he became a police officer.
“All of our city is heartbroken today,” Mayor de Blasio said at Aievoli Funeral Home in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
“Let us rededicate ourselves to those great New York traditions of mutual understanding and living in harmony. Let us move forward by strengthening the bonds that unite us, and let us work together to attain peace.”
Liu and his partner, Rafael Ramos, were killed by an unhinged assassin, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, while sitting in their patrol car outside the Tompkins Houses. After the ambush, the cop killer fatally shot himself.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton also hailed Liu’s legacy during the ceremony that featured frequent references to the teachings of Buddha.
Bratton said Liu was part of a long tradition of cops who join the force for the most noble of reasons.
“Officer Wenjian Liu believed in the possibility of making a safer world. All cops do,” Bratton said. “Cops are from everywhere. The NYPD looks a lot more like the city it serves than some people think.”
But Liu was more than just his job. He had married only three months before his assassination.
“His spirit will continue to look after us,” his widow, Pei Xia Chen said through tears.
“Wenjian is my hero.”
Outside the funeral home, a sea of blue uniforms from all over the country stretched for blocks — the number of mourners was estimated at more than 10,000. The men and women of law enforcement said they treated the occasion like a death in the family.
“It is hard. It’s a brotherhood,” said Alex Kim, 42, of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s office.
Chicago cop Andy Moy, 42, was moved by the display of camaraderie.
“We are all family, the family of law enforcement,” Moy said. “We all wear the same blue uniform.”
FBI Director James Comey put the brazen daytime attack in the context of a “shocking increase” in cop killings, in which 115 officers were killed last year nationwide.
“These are difficult days, days when we struggle to find meaning in tragedy,” he said. “(Liu) was a person of great thoughtfulness and tremendous care . . . our obligation is to make sure something good comes out of tragedy, so evil is not allowed to hold the field.”
Gov. Cuomo, who is preparing to bury his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, did not attend the funeral.
Just after 1 p.m., eight NYPD officers carried out Liu’s coffin draped in a green and blue flag while two NYPD trumpeters played taps. The sea of cops stood at attention. Three NYPD helicopters flew in formation overhead before Liu’s coffin was loaded in the hearse.
As the trumpeters played “America the Beautiful,” an officer presented a folded American flag to Liu’s widow, who was holding a photo of her husband and incense. The officer saluted, and she acknowledged the gesture with a slight bow.
The motorcade departed for Cypress Hills Cemetery in the drizzling rain, led by a police drum corps and hundreds of cops on motorcycles from Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Orleans and elsewhere.
Among the crowd was Alex Wang, 65, who said he was a friend of the Liu family. He held a sign in Chinese that read, “Liu went up to heaven.”
“This is all very sad,” Wang said. “We just want to be here for (the widow).”
The caravan reached the Liu family home in Gravesend at 2 p.m.
One family member held a hefty stick of incense outside of the window, with smoke wafting into the car. The incense represented Liu’s soul, which must pass by his home one final time, said Bosco Yip, who lives on the block.
A woman dressed in black burned paper money on the steps of the home in accordance with Chinese custom, which holds that the cash will accompany one in the afterlife.
Chen, still holding the incense and framed photo of her dead husband, bowed in the direction of his coffin, then faced their home and bowed again.
The procession then departed for Liu’s final resting place at the Brooklyn cemetery.
Liu’s body was buried in a plot with a sweeping view of the city.
Fittingly, he shares a hill with Ramos, whom Bratton called “his partner now for all time.”
“(Liu) was persistent in his efforts, and mindful of his obligations. He was patient,” Bratton said. “He shared his culture. He was, after all, a good man. A humane man. He was a New York City cop.”
BY Edgar Sandoval , Eli Rosenberg , Stephen Rex Brown
With Dale Eisinge, Evie Liu, Sabrina Caserta