NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio, heavily criticized by police for his handling of protests critical of them, attended Friday’s wake for an officer shot to death with his partner in a brazen daytime attack.
Hundreds of police officers, politicians and community members attended the day-long remembrance at the Christ Tabernacle Church for Officer Rafael Ramos.
Ramos, a 40-year-old father of two sons, was studying to be a pastor. His body was carried into the church in a flag-draped casket and was displayed in full dress uniform.
Ramos’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday, and Vice President Biden is expected to make remarks. De Blasio has said he will attend. Funeral plans for Ramos’s partner, Officer Wenjian Liu, have not been announced.
Police union officials have said de Blasio contributed to a climate of mistrust toward police amid protests over the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white officers. At a hospital where Ramos and Liu were taken after being shot as they sat in a patrol car on a Brooklyn street, police and union officials turned their backs on the mayor in a sign of disrespect. The union’s president, Patrick Lynch, blamed de Blasio for the officers’ deaths, saying, “There is blood on many hands,” starting “in the office of the mayor.”
After a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man whose confrontation with police was videotaped, Lynch was incensed when the mayor mentioned how he often fears for the safety of his biracial son in his interactions with police. Just days before the shooting, Lynch suggested police union members sign a petition demanding de Blasio not attend their funerals should they die on the job.
The killings have ramped up emotions in the tense national debate over police conduct. Since Ramos and Liu were killed, police in New York say they have arrested seven people accused of threatening officers.
Before he attacked Ramos and Liu, the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, had referenced in online posts the high-profile killings of unarmed black men by white officers. Soon after the shooting of the officers, Brinsley, who was black, killed himself.