NBC News is reporting that thousands of people are gathering at Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens, New York City, for the funeral of officer Rafael Ramos. Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Bill de Blasio are expected to attend the funeral of officer Ramos, who was murdered alongside his partner officer Wenjian Liu as they sat in their patrol car last Saturday.
Police officers from across the U.S. and Canada are attending the funeral to show solidarity with officer Ramos' family and with the New York Police Department. Officer Ramos's killer had claimed that the officers were killed in an act of revenge for the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who was killed by a chokehold in July. The mourners will include 730 police officers flown to New York by Jet Blue, an airline based in the city. Spokesman Morgan Johnston said Friday that the New York-based airline was committed to finding space for two officers per agency that wanted to send representatives.
A wake was held for officer Ramos yesterday, and the New York Daily News reported that "there were mourners who waited in blocks-long lines, his grieving family, a flag-draped casket, plenty of tears and hundreds of fellow cops."
After a day of speculation about his whereabouts, Mayor de Blasio showed up to pay his respects to officer Ramos, just after 9 p.m. when the wake had originally been scheduled to end. As reported by the Inquisitr earlier this week Mayor de Blasio had been criticized by NYPD officers, after making comments they saw as unhelpful and controversial. Viewing was extended until 10 p.m. to accommodate hundreds of uniformed officers who were waiting to pay their respects at Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens.
During the wake Rafael Ramos' older son, Justin, paid tribute to his father, telling the packed church, "What happened to my father is a tragedy, but his death will not be in vain."
"My father was a man of character, he was a selfless man. He always went above and beyond for his family," added the college student. "My father was a hero. He touched so many and will continue to do so. I could not ask for a better role model."
Officer Ramos was wearing his full dress uniform inside an open casket as the mourners paused to pray.
Capt. Sergio Centa, Ramos' commanding officer at the 84th Precinct, said the officer's slaying was a terrifying game-changer for the city's cops.
"Things you take for granted, you can't anymore," said Centa before heading inside. "Sitting in your car, someone walking up the street — you never know. It's a scary time for the police force."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the officers' deaths were senseless, and said officials were reviewing the case to see what could be done, if anything, legislatively to prevent a further killing.
For Ramos' siste,r Sindy Ramos, there was no consolation.
"Help me understand why God took you from me so soon," she said through tears in a eulogy.
As Rafael Ramos is laid to rest today, one can only pray that this tragedy marks an end to the killing.
The funeral of Ramos' colleague officer Wenjian Liu will take place at a later date, once relatives have made the journey to New York from China.
[Image - NBC News]