Close to 20,000 uniformed police officers from across the country gathered at Aievoli Funeral Home in Dyker Heights on the gray morning of Sunday, January 4 to lay local resident Detective Wenjian Liu to rest.
Liu, a 32-year-old newlywed living in Bensonhurst, was gunned down while sitting in a marked cop car with colleague and Sunset Park native Rafael Ramos on Saturday, December 20. Ramos’ funeral was held on Saturday, December 27 but Liu’s had been delayed so that his relatives could make the trip from China.
Buddhist monks led a Chinese ceremony for Liu, followed by a traditional police ceremony with eulogies by NYPD Chaplain Monsignor Robert Romano. Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner William Bratton and FBI Director James Comey were among the others on hand to give one final salute.
“These are our most difficult days,” said Comey, stressing that 115 police officers were killed in the line of duty last year – a statistic he called shocking. “The days where we struggle to find meaning from tragedy, the days where we struggle to find words to define our loss.”
“All of our city is heartbroken today,” echoed de Blasio, calling the fallen officer – known to friends and family as Joe – a “good man who walked a path of courage.” “We lost [in Detectives Liu and Ramos] the very best of us, everything that we, as New Yorkers, inspire to be.”
Bratton, who told of his childhood calling to become a cop, also told of Liu’s – a calling that came later in life, following national tragedy.
“Liu had plans to be an accountant, but 9/11 changed those plans,” said the commissioner, calling the son of Chinese immigrants a “martyr” for all of the NYPD. “Some people witnessed that horrible day and were paralyzed. [Liu] witnessed it and saw the possibility of service.”
Members of the Liu family spoke highly of the man they called “[their] police officer.”
“He was fearless in and out of work,” said Liu’s wife, Pei Xia Chen of the self-proclaimed “family man” whom she married just weeks ago. “He is my soulmate.”
Liu’s father, Wei Tang Liu, and Liu’s cousin also spoke.
“Today is the saddest day in my life,” said Wei Tang.
Liu was his only son.
The funeral service came just one day after an open-casket wake at Aievoli Funeral Home, 1275 65th Street, and a separate candlelight vigil in Chinatown, and was followed by a burial at Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills Cemetery.
Most of 13th Avenue was blocked off to accommodate the services.