City, police gives final salute to slain NYPD officer Jason Rivera

Northeast

NEW YORK (AP) — Thousands of police officers lined the pews Friday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to honor fallen Officer Jason Rivera, who was gunned down with his partner last week in an ambush that left the New York Police Department in mourning and the city on edge.

Officers came from near and far to honor Rivera, 22, who was recently married and barely into his second year of service on the force.

“It doesn’t really matter what uniform we wear,” said Master Police Officer Tammy Russel, from Fairfax County, Virginia. “These are all our brothers and sisters. … Sadness all around.”

Rivera’s widow, Dominique Luzuriaga, whom he met in elementary school, gave an emotional eulogy, talking about their life and the events that happened on the last day she saw her husband.

Always the class clown, there was never a dull moment when Rivera was around, Luzuriaga remembered.

“You made me feel alive,” she said.

Luzuriaga recalled seeing Rivera in the hospital after he was shot. He couldn’t hear her when she spoke to him, Luzuriaga said, which broke her.

“I was lost,” she said. “I’m still lost.”

On Friday morning, Luzuriaga said, she was still “in this nightmare that I wish I never had, full of rage and anger, hurt and sad, torn.”

Although she spoke highly of her husband, Luzuriaga also voiced frustration over Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s policies on crime, saying the “system continues to fail us,” NewsNation local affiliate PIX11 reported.

“We are not safe anymore, not even members of the service,” she said. “I know you were tired of these laws, especially the ones from the new DA. I hope he’s watching you speak through me right now.”

On Twitter after the funeral, Bragg said he’s grieving and praying for Rivera and his partner, Officer Wilbert Mora, who was also fatally wounded on the same day.

“My thoughts are with their families and the NYPD,” Bragg said in the post. “Violence against police officers will never be tolerated, and my office will vigorously prosecute cases of violence against the police.”

Rivera and Mora were fatally wounded on Jan. 21 by a gunman who ambushed them in a hallway as they responded to a family dispute. Mora’s funeral is being held next week, also at St. Patrick’s.

Both officers grew up in the city’s ethnic enclaves and had hoped to help the department build bridges with the community. Friends and fellow police officers describe them as caring and dedicated.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan presided over Rivera’s service, held in Spanish and English, to recognize Rivera’s Dominican heritage. A day earlier, everyday citizens joined thousands of uniformed officers at the cathedral for Rivera’s wake.

“Jason rose through every challenge that crossed his path. He was everything this city and the NYPD needed him to be,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said during her eulogy.

During the funeral mass, Sewell honored Rivera by posthumously giving him a promotion to detective first-grade, the highest rank someone in that position can achieve.

Sewell’s words were met with thunderous applause throughout St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said flags at state buildings would fly at half-staff from sunrise the day of Rivera’s funeral until sunset the day of Mora’s funeral on Wednesday.

“It’s an emotional time,” said retired NYPD Officer Sean Flanagan, who played the bagpipes outside the cathedral. “We honor our own; we take care of our own.”

The gunman, who was shot by a third officer, died earlier in the week. Authorities are still investigating why he fired at the officers.

Before Friday, the last NYPD officer killed in the line of duty was Anastasios Tsakos, who was struck by a suspected drunken driver in May 2021 while assisting officers at the scene of an earlier crash on a Queens highway.

The last NYPD officer fatally shot in the line of duty, Brian Mulkeen, was hit by friendly fire while struggling with an armed man after chasing and shooting at him in the Bronx in September 2019.

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