Monday, December 22, 2014

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Mayor: Put Protests Aside as City Mourns Loss of NYPD Officers

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Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday called on New Yorkers to remain calm and put protests aside as the families of two NYPD police officers who were fatally shot over the weekend begin to make funeral preparations.

Joined by Police Commissioner William Bratton at One Police Plaza, the mayor said the events of the past two days have been a "very painful journey" for all those involved.

"This is a time for every New Yorker to think about these families, focus in these families, put them first," De Blasio said. "We can do that by respecting their pain, respecting their time of mourning I'm asking everyone, and this is across the spectrum to put aside protests, put aside demonstrations. Until these funerals are past, let's just focus on these families and what they have lost."

The mayor's remarks echoed those he made earlier in the day at the Police Athletic League December luncheon in Midtown where the commissioner received a standing ovation.

The mayor is also asking anyone who sees any kind of threats made toward police on the Internet, like the one shooter Ismaaiyl Brinsley posted on social media, to report it immediately.


Earlier in the day, Mayor de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the homes of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.

The mayor met with Ramos' family at their home in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn; Governor Andrew Cuomo visited their home on Sunday.

While the governor says the city must face the loss head on, he says it's important for everyone to take a break during the upcoming holiday week.

"I think it's time for a societal deep breath. I think we need a cooling off period. This is a holy week," Cuomo told WNYC Radio.

The mayor also visited officer Wenjian Liu's family Monday.

Cuomo says he is impressed with the way Mayor de Blasio has handled the tragic events.

"I think mayor de Blasio is doing the best he can under very difficult circumstances to hear all sides of the matter," Cuomo added.


Police say officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were sitting in their patrol car on the corner of Myrtle and Tompkins Avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant Saturday afternoon when 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley approached the car and opened fire, killing them both. He then fled on foot before killing himself in a nearby subway station as police closed in.

Before coming to the city, police say Brinsley shot his former girlfriend in Maryland, and made anti-police statements about the death of Eric Garner from her Instagram account.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Sunday that Brinsley had a lengthy rap sheet and had served time, and that his family said he had a history of undiagnosed mental illness.

Boyce also said that Brinsley had a conversation with two man on the street right before the deadly shooting.

Police say Brinsley, who himself had no known connection to gangs, then approached the police car and opened fire.

Authorities say that Brinsley, who was born in Brooklyn and attended high school in New Jersey, was at a protest in Union Square back on December 1 before a grand jury decided not to indict the NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island.

Investigators say he recorded part of the protest on his phone and in online posts before Saturday's shooting he vowed to kill police officers over the deaths of black men at the hands of white officers.

Commissioner Bratton and Mayor de Blasio have called the broad daylight killing an assassination.

Appearing on "The Today Show" Monday morning, Bratton said he does not think officers should have turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio on Saturday but admitted that he thinks the mayor has lost the trust and support of some officers.

Bratton said there are a number of reasons for the growing tension between police and the mayor including recent attacks on officers and anger over ongoing contract negotiations.

"But we are in a change moment I think is the term here in the United States and the idea is to take out of this crisis, find opportunity to move it forward and I think that can happen. Its why I came back into the department more than a year ago and we will seize on this tragedy, we will seize on on all of these issues and we'll move forward," Bratton said.

Bratton went on to say he does not think any of the mayor's recent actions or comments has led to an increased threat against the NYPD.

Meantime, family and friends of Officer Ramos gathered Sunday outside of his childhood home in Cyprus Hills to mourn the 40-year-old married father of two.

Ramos' aunt, Lucy Ramos, praised members of the community for their support and urged New Yorkers to come together in the wake of her nephews death.

"I would like to thank all those who have shared their sympathy and support for our beloved family member Rafael Ramos who will always be loved and missed by many. I hope and pray that we can reflect on this tragic loss of lives that have occurred so that we can move forward and find an amicable path to a peaceful co-existence," Ramos said.

"He would help you, he would go beyond to help you. He was a man of God. He loved his family, he loved the community he helped everybody its just sad the way things happen in this world. But like I said we've got to stop the violence, we've got to love each other, we've got to help each other," said Ramos' cousin, Robert Gonzales.

Wake services for officer Ramos will be held on Friday, December 26 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale, New York.

A funeral will be held the following day at 10 a.m. at the same church.

Officer Liu, an only child, is mourned by his parents and his wife of just two months. Commissioner Bratton says the city is trying to fly his family members to New York from China.

As New Yorkers keep paying tribute to the fallen officers, the department is making some changes designed to keep police safe.

Officers going out on foot patrol will now be working in pairs.

Patrols by auxiliary officers have been suspended.

The department is also ramping up security at station houses across the city.

The President of the Detectives’ Endowment Association sent a message out to detectives urging them to be cautious.

Michael Palladino urged detectives to wear their bullet proof vests and suggested staying in groups of three.

In the message, Palladino reminds detectives to be aware of their surroundings saying, "The real threat may not even come from those with whom you are engaged."

Some state lawmakers are now pushing a bill to retrofit police cars across the state with bullet proof glass.

Assemblymembers Jim Tedisco and Nicole Malliotakis, along with state senators Marty Golden and Phil Boyle, are preparing to introduce the legislation in the next session.

The glass would be installed across the state over time, starting with NYPD vehicles.

"The real heroes are the men and women who are in that car, ready to give up their lives 24:7. And they're the men and women that we ultimately have protect in every single way possible. It's good to have bulletproof vests. We've got to give them bulletproof windows," Tedisco said.

The retrofit is expected to be paid for with money from the state's $5 billion surplus.

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