Officers Salute Mayor De Blasio, Commissioner as They Arrive at Funeral

New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton (C) shakes hands with a policeman as he and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (R) depart from slain NYPD officer Wenjian Liu's wake in the Brooklyn borough of New York January 3, 2015. Carlo Allegri/Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City police guards saluted as Mayor Bill de Blasio entered a Brooklyn funeral home on Saturday with his police commissioner for the wake of the second of two patrol officers killed in an ambush last month.

Ahead of the wake for Wenjian Liu, believed to be the first Chinese-American officer killed in the line of duty in the city, Commissioner Bill Bratton told his force to refrain from the "act of disrespect" seen at the funeral of Liu's partner, when some of those in uniform turned their backs on de Blasio.

"A hero's funeral is about grieving, not grievance," Bratton wrote in a memo to be read on police roll calls over the weekend.

Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, were shot to death on Dec. 20 as they sat in their squad car in Brooklyn. Their killer, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who killed himself soon after, had said he was seeking to avenge the deaths this summer of two unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers.

The killing of Liu and Ramos further frayed relations between the rank and file and De Blasio, who vowed to end the department's stop-and-frisk policy when he ran for office in 2013.

The mayor, who has a biracial son, also offered qualified support for the wave of protests triggered late last year by the black men's deaths in New York and Missouri.

On Saturday, a few hundred mourners, a majority of whom were police officers in dress blue uniforms, queued on a frigid and snowy afternoon outside the funeral home.

De Blasio and Bratton entered together the service shortly after it opened at 1 p.m. with officers standing guard by the funeral's entrance saluting both men as they made their way inside.

The funeral for Ramos last Sunday was among the largest in the history of the department, with more than 20,000 officers from around the country filling streets around the church.

When de Blasio began his eulogy there, many uniformed officers turned their backs on television monitors set up outside, in a gesture of disdain for the liberal mayor following his criticisms of police policies.

"For the last seven days, the city's and the country's consciousness has focused on an act of disrespect," said Bratton, who had previously called the action inappropriate. He said it had stolen the "valor, honor and attention" that rightfully belonged to the slain officer.


Services for Liu were taking place in Brooklyn, not far from where he lived with his wife of two months and his parents. A wake, closed to the public, was to be followed by a funeral that tens of thousands of police were expected to attend.

In a sign of the force's broadening ethnic diversity, observances are expected to meld Chinese and Buddhist customs with the usual traditions of an NYPD funeral, which date to when Roman Catholic men of Irish or Italian descent dominated the force.

Frank, a retired NYPD detective who declined to give his last name, said he had attended funerals of all police officers who fell in the line of duty. His partner had died in his arms while on a patrol in 1971, he said.

"We just do it out of respect," he said. "Cops are brothers."

In his memo, Bratton said he understood emotions were running high among the rank and file after what he described as the assassination of the two officers. He said his entreaty to the department was not a mandate and he was not threatening to discipline those who did not comply.

"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."