Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Funeral Under Way for Fallen NYC Officer
Aired January 4, 2015 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Good morning. I'm Brian Stelter and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.
In place of RELIABLE SOURCES in the U.S., we're going to pick up CNN's continuing coverage as New York City and nation mourns and remembers the life of NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu.
You're looking at live pictures from the Benson Hurst section of Brooklyn, New York, where funeral services are about to begin for Liu. He was 32 years old, a newlywed and he was shot execution style alongside Officer Rafael Ramos last month in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of that same borough, Brooklyn. Ramos was laid to rest last Saturday.
Here in these pictures, you can see the extraordinary turnout on a chilly day here in New York. The sea of blue stretches many blocks. In fact, the NYPD has arranged for one mile of this area to be closed to traffic for all of the people there. Organizers are anticipating 25,000 of them. Of those, about 600 inside the funeral home including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and FBI Director James Comey. You are seeing pictures of some of theme arriving earlier this morning.
We are hopeful we will bee able to show you the funeral service live in the next few minutes.
The funeral will be led by Buddhist monks and will incorporate Chinese traditions such as the burning of paper and money for the afterlife. A police ceremony will follow and then his body will be driven to a cemetery where he will be laid to rest. Liu came to the U.S. from China at the age of 12, the only child of his loving parents. He got married just this September. His widow gave this tearful statement two days after her husband's tragic death.
(BEIN VIDEO CLIP)
PEI XIA CHEN, WIDOW OF OFFICER WENJIAN LIU: This is a difficult time for both of our families, but we will stand together and get through this together. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: So let's begin our coverage by going to Brooklyn where Miguel Marquez is standing by at the funeral home. Miguel, tell me where you are and what you're seeing around you.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're right outside the funeral home. I can tell you that many of the officials who are meant to be here today have arrived. We have not seen the FBI director here yet, but the mayor and the police commissioner arrived and perhaps emblematic of how things are going for the city and for this mayor and his own police force, Bill Bratton, the police commissioner, got out of his car and glad handed and spoke to many of the officers there. He is the police commissioner after all. These are his guys.
The mayor showed up ten minutes after along with his wife. They went right into the church. Said hello, a quick couple nods to police officers as he went in, but there wasn't that warmth, there wasn't that embrace.
That said at the wake yesterday, when both the commissioner and the mayor walked in, members of the ceremonial unit saluted both individuals as they went in to the funeral home here.
And now, things just getting ready to get under way. The hearse is set. We have seen other members of the ceremonial guard, presumably there will be some sort of procession down 65th Avenue here in Brooklyn, down that incredibly impressive number of uniformed police officers down 65th Avenue. As I said, they're preparing for some 25,000 police officers to be inside here to witness this funeral.
We do not think that you will see the number of officers or perhaps any officers turn their back on the mayor as he speaks today. We expect to hear from the FBI director, from the mayor, from the police commissioner, and from the monsignor, Monsignor Romano, the police chaplain, probably also members of the Liu family will speak as well.
This will go from 11:00, now, until about 1:00. Much of it though will be part of that sort of Buddhist ceremony where literally they mourn, they bring food for the afterlife, they burn material goods for the afterlife and say a very, very heartfelt good-bye to their loved one -- Brian.
STELTER: Miguel, thank you. And stay with us.
Let's also check in with CNN's Sara Ganim. She's in the crowds gathered outside that funeral home.
And, Sara, from one of the live shots we were just showing, there's a sign you can see in the crowd that says "God bless the NYPD. But then below it also the words there in the corner of the screen now "dump de Blasio." Obviously, this is a heart-wrenchingly personal day for the family, but it's also -- it appears at least from that sign a political day.
What have you seen in the crowd? Are there any other signs like that? Any other signs of this sort of protest?
SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Haven't seen many signs like that, Brian. The signs I have seen have been in support of the officers, in support specifically of Officer Liu and his partner Officer Ramos. And I -- just to give you a look. I mean, this street filled up incredibly quickly with people who have come here but it goes back nearly a mile down this road.
Police officers have lined up to watch the ceremony on jumbo screens outside. At times, it's raining here in Brooklyn, but clearly no less of a showing than was last week for Officer Ramos' funeral despite the inclement weather. People are showing up by the thousands, clearly not just police officers, but also community members.
But we do know that it's not just the NYPD. It's not just New Yorkers who have come here to show their support. JetBlue flew in for free more than 1,100 police officers from across the country. I have personally seen a variety of departments represented here -- San Diego, Cincinnati, Virginia, Connecticut.
I talked to a couple of officers who flew in thanks to JetBlue from the New Orleans area, and one of them told me, he said it was incredibly important for them to be here because not only did they like to see the showing of support from across the country for police officers here in New York, but also, that they wanted to convey that they believe that the majority of the nation still stands behind police officers and supports them -- Brian.
STELTER: It's notable to me that you're saying you haven't seen any other signs or a verbal protests against the mayor or against what they believe is a sentiment against the police department in the city.
GANIM: Well, I didn't see that so much maybe as we expected because of what happened last week, because of the turning of their backs. I didn't see as much as I would have expected.
STELTER: And tell us about --
GANIM: The officers I talked to, specifically those who were out of town, said, you know, this -- the political part of this isn't something they want to get involved in. They came here to support Officer Liu, and they said what's going on between the NYPD and de Blasio, this wasn't the day for that.
STELTER: And tell me about what the Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said to the rank and file on Friday.
GANIM: Well, what he said was basically a plea. He said, please don't do that again. Please don't turn your backs on the mayor. Today is not a day for that.
What he said was a hero's funeral is not a place for grievance, it's a place for grieving, and he said specifically that this wasn't a mandate. No one would be disciplined over it, but he asked that they not do it, and the reason was because those pictures of them turning their backs on the mayor, those were very powerful pictures, Brian.
You saw them, I saw them, and they really took over the narrative of the day, and that day was supposed to be about Officer Ramos, and it turned out it was a lot about de Blasio and the NYPD and he didn't want that to happen again -- Brian.
STELTER: Sara, thank you, and stay with us as this hour progresses.
Now, I want to bring in several guests beginning with Lee Brown. He was the New York City police commissioner in the early 1990s. Harry Siegel, a veteran reporter for "The Daily News", Errol Louis, host of "Inside City Hall" on New York 1, and Tom Verni, a retired New York Police Department detective.
Thank you all for being here.
And, Tom, let me start with you as you see these pictures of the sea of blue again. How does it make you feel as a retired detective?
TOM VERNI, RETIRED NYPD DETECTIVE: I think it's fantastic, the outpouring of support that's come from all corners of the United States. I believe there's even some from Canada as well. It just reinforces the fact that what a tragedy this was. We started off with Ramos' funeral and we're seeing it again today for Officer Liu's funeral.
It's not unexpected, especially in an unbelievable double assassination. It's not unexpected we would have a large turnout like this and I'm very, very happy to see so many people would come out and support the family.
STELTER: Are there any parallels that you can recall in history to as what you said this double execution on December 20th? Certainly partners have been killed before in the line of duty.
VERNI: Yes, back in -- if you go back into the 1970s, we had -- we've had officers killed in assassinations for decades. We had even back to 1988 when we had Eddie Burn who was killed in his patrol car.
You know, the sad thing about this more than -- that people are trying to wrap their heads around, is these officers were not engaged in any type of confrontation, not engaged in any type of enforcement. This was just an unprovoked attack. They were sitting in their car having a roast beef sandwich and this is something out of left field and it's something they couldn't have possibly defended themselves against.
And it's just the senselessness -- it's always senseless but this level is just beyond any that I think anyone has had in recent memory.
STELTER: Let me turn to Lee who is coming to us from Houston this morning.
Lee, as the commissioner about 20 years ago in the early 1990s, I'm interested in comparing the crime levels now versus then. Because the city has seen record low levels of crime and these funerals are going on with that backdrop. How would you compare the city during your tenure to where it is today?
LEE BROWN, FORMER NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMISSIONER: I became the commissioner in 1990. That was at the peak of the crack cocaine epidemic, and crime was at an all-time high, and my goal was to reduce crime. We did that by implementing the concept of community policing throughout the entire department, and after one year we saw crime go down and it's continued to go down ever since.
Obviously, the amount of crime then is still higher than it is now because of the declines we've seen in recent years. But when I went there, it was at the peak of the crack epidemic, and that was one of the reasons we had such a high crime rate, particularly violence on the streets.
STELTER: I think it's worthwhile context about those low crime rates, and I know, Errol, you have been bringing it up on CNN earlier today. It doesn't make this any less heartbreaking, but it reminds us that the relationship between the police and the citizens they serve has evolved over the decades in New York City.
ERROL LOUIS, NY1: It has evolved, indeed. The housing development, the public housing development where Wenjian Liu and Officer Ramos were on patrol has seen a 30 percent drop in violent crime. The Tompkins houses had been a real problem spot just a few years prior, and they had worked it out. The local community, the local precinct, they had cameras, they had foot patrols, they had surveillance, they lit the place up at night. That turned out to be the thing that did the trick and things were really sort of coming back in the city.
STELTER: We can see live pictures inside the funeral home for the first time. We expect the service to get under way shortly.
Errol, I don't want to tiptoe around this. Partly, people are watching today to see if there is a repeat of that protest that we saw eight days ago with the backs turned. That, of course, will not be visible to the crowd inside, to the speakers inside, but it will be visible to us outside.
What do you expect to see?
LOUIS: I don't expect to see people pass up a chance to make a statement if they so choose, and so, in some ways this will be, you know, as appropriate in a democracy, a chance to sort of have people weigh in. Will it be a few? Will it be a few hundred?
I'd be surprised if absolutely nobody wanted to make a statement. We've seen that sign already outside. There are some who feel quite strongly that the reforms that are coming to the NYPD are not to their liking, that the mayor who was implementing those reforms as the voters have basically elected him to do is also not to their liking.
I mean, there's a certain amount of conflict that you just can't get around. The question is how big, how serious, and that is what a lot of people will be and probably should be watching for.
STELTER: Harry, as we await the service to begin, and we will take it live as soon as we hear it begin, what do you expect to happen tomorrow? I ask about tomorrow because the mayor asked for a halt to protests against police excessive use of force, protests against police brutality after these execution-style killings on December 20th, but this is the second and final funeral today.
Do you expect to see a resurgence of this movement later today or tomorrow among -- particularly young people who feel there needs to be a realignment in the relationship between the police and the people they serve?
HARRY SIEGEL, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: What the mayor has been hope something that asking for this time-out, which he didn't entirely get either from the police officers and the unions or from the protesters was a way to cool the temperature and realign and his plan from jump has been Commissioner Bratton was going to keep crime down and Mayor de Blasio was going to reform the department and he'd be able to pull that off.
There's a lot of suspicious from the police and the reformers from that arrangement and none of that goes away. It's bought a bit of time. These stories will emerge. But this is not ending today.
STELTER: I was -- let's go ahead and listen in now. The FBI director is beginning to speak.
DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: -- Detective Liu, on behalf of the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the entire federal government.
These are our most difficult days. They are days where we struggle to find meaning from tragedy, when we struggle to find words to define our loss. I was not fortunate enough to know Detective Liu, but I have heard many people speak of him since his loss, and I know from those words that he was a person of great thoughtfulness and tremendous caring, someone who cared deeply about other people, which is why he became a police officer.
There are many members of Detective Liu's family here with us today. Although, we all mourn his loss, you mourn him in a way we can never know because of the loss you have suffered, and we are terribly sorry.
One of the hardest things I do as FBI director is call the police departments around this country when an officer in that department is lost in the line of duty. I make far too many calls, 115 police officers were killed in this country in the last year, a shocking increase from 2013.
I do not know why there is so much evil and heartache in our world. I cannot understand evil. I cannot explain evil. I will not try.
But what I believe with all my heart is that our obligation is to try to make something good come of tragedy so that evil is not allowed to hold the field, so that evil is not allowed to win the day. I believe our obligation is to do good.
Knowing that nothing will ever make this tremendous loss somehow worth it, but I believe our obligation is to try and do good to honor this good man and do everything we can to protect those who protect us.
Detective Liu, Detective Ramos, and all the men and women of law enforcement become members of the law enforcement community because they want to do good for other people. They want to rescue kids. They want to save neighborhoods. They want to make life possible, ordinary life for ordinary folks.
They do it knowing the danger that this work brings to them. They do it anyway, because they understand that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give, and they have chosen to make the most remarkable lives, especially for those of us they protect.
In 1985, President Reagan spoke at a ceremony at Ft. Campbell in Kentucky in tribute to members of the 101st Airborne Division who had been killed. I want to paraphrase his words because I think he speaks to us and for us today.
He said: The man we mourn today was a peacemaker. He was there to protect life and preserve peace, to act as a force for stability and hope and trust. His commitment was as strong as his purpose was pure.
I am honored to be here today to pay tribute to a fallen peacemaker, to someone who was a force for stability and hope and trust in this great city. I hope and trust that all of us, but especially Detective Liu's family, are able to find strength and peace. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And thank you, Director Comey. Governor Cuomo was to be our next speaker here this morning but he's unable to attend due to his father's passing and funeral viewing today. We all extend our condolences to the governor and his family.
It's now my pleasure to introduce the mayor of the city of New York, the Honorable Bill de Blasio.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: Thank you, Lieutenant. And thank you, Director Comey, for your very moving words. Thank you, Commissioner Bratton. Thank you to all who have gathered here to remember this good man and support this good family.
All of our city is heart broken today. We've seen it over these last two weeks. We've seen the pain that people feel from all walks of life, a sense of appreciation for the sacrifices of this family and of the Ramos family -- their understanding of people who have never worn a uniform of how many dangers our men and women in uniform face and what it means for their families. All of this city is feeling the pain right now and all of this city wants to lift up the Liu family and the Ramos family and always remember their sacrifice.
Detective Wenjian Liu was a good man. He walked a path of courage, a path of sacrifice, and a path of kindness. This is who he was, and he was taken from us much too soon. Our hearts go out to his wife Pei Xia Chen who married him just
months before his cruel loss. To his father Wei Tang Liu and his mother Xiu Yan Li, who have suffered the unimaginable pain of losing their only child. And to all the men and women of the New York City Police Department who served alongside Detective Liu these past seven years, they were his second family, and that family has lost a beloved brother.
For a mayor there's no more solemn ceremony than this, mourning a man whose life was taken while fighting for all that is decent and good. We meet a family that has lost so much in the hospital or in their home or here at a funeral, it's a reminder that what is done by good people to keep others safe and to hold our society together and just how great the dangers are.
When I met Detective Liu's family and learned more about his brave and selfless journey, I came away with a sad realization that we had lost a man who embodied our city's most cherished values. We lost in Detective Liu and we lost in Detective Ramos the very best of us, everything that we as New Yorkers aspire to be. We lost two individuals who were showing us the way.
Detective Liu's story is such a powerful American story. It is such a classic New York story, a young man who came here from China with his parents at the age of 12 in search of the American dream, in search of the dream that generations have come to New York to find.
Ours is a city as proud of the Statue of Liberty, we're proud that the great lady still holds the torch of freedom aloft in the harbor. We're proud because of what it means, a promise that no matter where people have come from, no matter what troubles they have left behind here, they can lead lives full of hope and possibility.
And the Liu family took New York up on that great promise. While Detective Liu's father labored long hours in the garment industry, Detective Liu studied hard in our New York City public school. He learned English, he prepared himself for college. Detective Liu's dream was clear and it was a noble one, to don the blue uniform, to pin on the badge, and to dedicate himself to directing and serving the city he loved.
Detective Liu's life revolved around his family. The family he was born into and his second family, the NYPD. And it took occasional weekends off for something he loved, fishing with his friends. He loved to fish. He loved to fish here in the city or on Long Island or upstate, brought him joy.
Every day of fishing was a good day, but it says something important about Detective Liu that his happiest days were when he caught a big haul of fish and could share with his aunts, his uncles, his cousins. He could cook some for his wife and his parents, and the joy that fishing brought him we saw how he approached his whole life. His greatest meaning, his greatest joy came in sharing with others, came in caring for others, helping, supporting, devoting himself to something greater than himself. Detective Liu was deeply devoted to his mother and father. A
devotion that Confucius said powerfully was, quote, "the root of a man's character."
In high school, Detective Liu always stopped playing basketball with his friends early so he could go home, he could buy groceries, he could cook dinner for his father and his mother. As his parents grew older, he helped in more and more ways. One of his proudest moments was the day he bought a house for his father and mother and began paying the mortgage. So, he knew they would be secure in their old age.
Detective Liu was filled with joy when Pei Xia Chen entered his life. He was all the more joyful when they married. He was looking forward to building a wonderful life with her.
When he joined the NYPD, he knew his family would worry about him, and he wanted to make sure they knew he was always thinking of them. So, he did one of those caring acts, simple act that was so typical of all the good in him. At the end of every workday, every day, he called his father to tell him and to tell the family that he was safe and that he was on his way home.
Detective Liu was a brave and skilled police officer, but he was also a kind man, a kind officer, someone who gave of himself, and this is the word that so many in his family, so many of his friends, so many of his colleagues were quick to use. They said he was kind. He wanted to help others in everything he did.
The thing about Detective Liu, one of his partners on the force recalled is that he was always, quote, "more worried about other people than he was about himself." He showed this kindness in so many ways large and small. Detective Liu was the sort of officer who when he saw someone on the street lost, he'd go over to them and ask if they were hungry. He'd literally buy them dinner at McDonald's and give them a ride home.
His partner recalled going out one day with Detective Liu on what our police called a lift, a routine visit to help an older person who has fallen and cannot get up. The officers arrived at the old man's home, lifted him up, put him in a chair. At that point, their job was officially done.
But Detective Liu was not ready to leave. The man he came to help was an Army veteran who had served in Vietnam, and he was lonely and he wanted to talk about his life. He wanted to talk about his younger days as a pilot. Detective Liu sensed this, so he poured the man a soda, and the officers sat down and they listen to the man's war stories and looked at his faded photographs.
After a long time listening, Detective Liu knew it still wasn't time to leave yet. The officers helped the man to his bedroom and they gently placed him in his bed and then Detective Liu said to his partner, "Let's put blankets on him," and the two young police officers wrapped the old man in blankets. Detective Liu's partner never forgot that day. He never forgot
that what could have been a routine by-the-book lift was transformed into a moment of profound humanity and kindness and decency. His partner said of that visit, "Even though I was the senior one, I learned a lot from him."
That was Detective Liu's way, lifting people up in every sense, wrapping them in kindness, and teaching others by his example. Detective Liu lifted all of us up in the too brief time we were fortunate enough to have him with us. And New York City stands a little taller today because he walked among us.
The Buddha imparted a simple lesson to his followers. "Resolutely train yourself to attain peace," he said. That was how Detective Liu lived his life, that was how Detective Ramos lived his life.
We all should be worthy of them. We all should take their example to heart. We all should live lives as good as them.
This city welcomed Detective Liu. New York has been from its earliest days the most tolerant of cities, a place where people of diverse backgrounds and occupations and races and creeds have lived together in harmony. But there have always been times when that harmony has been challenged. And the last few weeks have been one of those times.
As we start a new year, a year we're entering with hearts that are doubly heavy from the loss of detective Liu and the loss of detective Ramos, let us rededicate ourselves to those great New York traditions of mutual understanding and living in harmony. Let us move forward by strengthening the bonds that unite us. And let us work together to attain peace.
Thank you. And God bless you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And thank you, Mr. Mayor.
It's now my pleasure to introduce the police commissioner of the city of New York, the Honorable William J. Bratton.
WILLIAM BRATTON, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Director of the FBI, Mr. Comey, Mayor de Blasio, Senator Schumer, the many elected officials from both the national, state, and local government, and to the thousands upon thousands of police officers lined up in the rain on this very gray morning outside this funeral home, thank you all for being here to honor this great man and, in honoring him, to honor his family.
Police officer Wenjian Liu believed in possibility. Like his partner that day, that fateful day two weeks ago, Rafael Ramos, his partner now for all time, officer Liu believed in the possibility of making a safer world. All cops do.
It's why we do what we do. It's why we run towards danger when others run away. We believe in the possibility of keeping disorder controlled. We believe in the possibility of a city free from fear. Over the last 22 years in this city, the men and women of this department, the NYPD, have made those possibilities reality for millions upon millions of our citizens.
I knew I wanted to be a cop since my early childhood. Detective Liu and Ramos both heard the call much later in life. But the pull was just as strong, because we all believe in the possibility of being part of something larger than ourselves.
Officer Liu left China when he was 12. His parents, Wei Tang Liu and Xiu Yan Li, found work and worked hard. And he worked hard, too. He helped them when he could. He studied hard at school. He called himself Joe. For a while, he was on the path to becoming an accountant, but 9/11 changed those plans, as it changed so many things for so many of us.
Some people witnessed that horrible day and were paralyzed. Detective Liu witnessed it and saw the possibility of service, the possibility of being part of something that would help others. For 170 years, immigrants to this city have found a home in the NYPD, like Detective Liu and Detective Ramos, to help others, to have a life of significance.
Only the homelands have changed over time. First, it was the Irish, then the Italians, like Giuseppe Petrosino, who called himself Joe, too. He was murdered by the mafia while on assignment in Italy.
And now our cops are from everywhere. The NYPD looks a lot more like the city it serves than some people think. More than half of our members call New York City home, and live within its five boroughs, just like Detective Liu and Detective Ramos.
And our heroes are from everywhere, too, like Haitian-born James Nemorin, who was murdered with his partner, Rodney Andrews, in 2003, like Eugene Marshalik, who fled the war in Chechnya, and was murdered with his partner, too, Nicholas Pekearo, in 2007.
These men and now thousands of women come to follow the American dream in the NYPD. They come to this greatest of cities and join this greatest of police departments, because it represents what they came here for. Everyone who comes here is from someplace where opportunity is more rare, someplace where fear is more common, someplace less free.
And if you come from such a place, is it any wonder you would want to join the profession that helps make America so different? Because without public safety, there is no possibility of free government. Everything that our government, our way of life promises, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from wants, freedom from fear, everything starts with public safety.
It starts with us. Detective Liu believed this. He joined the NYPD first as an auxiliary officer, an unpaid volunteer with no gun, just a uniform and a badge, and a belief that it's possible to make a difference, the belief that public safety is everyone's responsibility. When two of his auxiliary brothers were murdered by a madman in
Greenwich Village, he could have turned away. He could have said it wasn't worth it. Instead, four months later, he took the oath to become a New York City police officer.
For seven years, he kept the streets of Brooklyn safe, first in Brownsville, and then in downtown Brooklyn. For seven years, he sought out the suffering, the disturbed, the injured, and tried to bring them comfort. You have heard the mayor's story, the lift. Reminded me so much of my time as a young police officer in Mattapan, Boston. We called it the same thing, a lift job.
And I can remember hearing the mayor talk about it, about the different times we would go to help the elderly, oftentimes who were really just lonely. They needed a reason to call us. They needed someone to talk with.
And I can still remember myself and my partner, Henry Berlo, going on the lift jobs and having some of the same experiences that Detective Liu had.
Detective Liu is the police that we want. But it's also in this city and in this country the police that we have. And for that and for how he died, but for how he lived and performed his duty, for that, I am so honored, as has already been referenced, to posthumously promote Detective Liu -- police officer Liu to Detective First Grade Liu.
But as amazing as his story his, his refusal to be dissuaded or daunted, his dedication is hardly unique. After all, it's what cops do. In the days after Detective Liu and Ramos were assassinated, murdered for their color, slain because they were blue, I visited their families and learned what profoundly good men they were.
And I found myself wondering, why do we always lose the good ones? But then I realized, it's the law of averages. Almost all of them are the good ones. Very few are not. Our cops are people just like Detective Liu and Detective Ramos. They, too, share a belief in what's possible and a desire to serve.
Detective Liu led a responsible, compassionate life. He loved his wife (INAUDIBLE) his longtime sweetheart, but only just married, just starting out. As the mayor referenced, he cooked for his parents. Made a great soup, I'm told. He knew how to buy a good vegetable. He enjoyed simple things, an average fisherman who loved to show off his catches to his friends and share with them and his family.
He loved his family. And they certainly loved him, as we see from so many who have come from so far away to be here today. And at the end of every tour, as the mayor also referenced, he would call his father to let him know he was safe, at the end of every tour but one. He had wisdom and ethics and humanity.
On the department's Web site, people who worked with him have been writing remembrances. They all recount his happiness, his humor, his outlook, his righteous intentions. In those comments and in the words of friends, as well as the clear example of his choosing to be a cop, I have seen proof of his ethical conduct.
I have seen it in the stories of the speech -- of his speech and his action and from the livelihood that he chose. He was persistent in his efforts and mindful of his obligations. He was patient. He shared his culture, a culture he was so proud of. He was, after all, a good man, a humane man.
He was a New York City cop. And he knew what all cops know. He knew how hard the job can be. Every day, we face problems that would require days of deliberation in a judge's chambers, and we have but an instant to decide what action to take, as, every day, we face people who need help or people who are hurting. And we help them.
We answer 4.5 million radio runs a year in the city, nearly 400,000 arrests. And for good or ill, only a tiny handful make the news, and the millions, literally millions of the rest go unnoticed. We do this because we took an oath. We do this because we believe in possibility. This is what we signed up for, the possibility of helping people, of helping others, the possibility of making a safer, fairer city.
To Detective Liu and Detective Ramos' brothers and sisters in blue, the thousands of you who are lined up on those rainy streets outside, I am so proud of you, proud of you for making those possibilities a reality for so many in the city.
Even after 44 years, I am still so proud to be one of you. We're cops. We hold the line, the thin blue line. We don't quit when things are hard, because when aren't they? We took this job to prevent crime and disorder.
Over the past 22 years, this department has reminded the world of how that's done and how it can be done. The mission has not changed. The belief in possibility has not changed. And the much larger part of this city or this country, a much larger part than you think is proud -- than you think is proud of you too.
There are people who need us. We will not abandon them. To do so would be to dishonor the memories of Detective Liu and Detective Ramos. It would dishonor the others killed with their partners. A lot of those partners were as different as Detective Liu and Ramos, different races, different upbringings, different languages, because every police car holds a little bit of this city.
More than 130 officers have been killed in the line of duty in New York City in the last 45 years. And it would dishonor them, too. So we cannot falter. We cannot flag. We will move forward, for we carry the possibility of all those dead and all those who have worn the uniform before us.
It's the possibility of making a better world. And it's impossible to let their sacrifices and their efforts be in vain. But, today, we say farewell to Detective First Grade Liu, as we said farewell to Detective First Grade Ramos last week. We thank the Liu family for shearing him with us. As their
guests, we mourn with them. We take comfort in the Buddha's words that even when death comes, the lessons of goodness do not perish. As cops, we celebrate his life and that of Detective Ramos and honor what they accomplished for so many.
Above the coffin is this beautiful calligraphy. And some of the words are so representative of officer Liu and his partner, Detective Ramos. In the sphere of law enforcement, his vision is left unrealized. It's up to us to make his vision a reality.
For their service to the people, their names will be forever cherished in our hearts, and, finally, Detective Liu, a model for all police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And thank you, Commissioner Bratton.
We are honored today, ladies and gentlemen, to have members of the family to give us remarks.
We will first start with Detective Liu's cousins, Patty (ph), Henry (ph), and Kenny (ph).
Good morning, everyone. I would like to thank everyone for coming. We are the younger cousins of Joe Liu.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My earliest memory of Joe, I believe, was when I was 4 years old, and I met Joe for the first time right after he came to America.
The first thing he showed me was a sticker book. He had a collection of stickers. As we were going through them, I saw a sticker that I really liked. It was a sticker of the Statue of Liberty. He told me he had recently gotten it the night before right after he arrived.
I told him I really liked it and I wanted it. At first, he didn't want to give it to me, but then I started to cry, and eventually he gave it to me. This showed what kind of person he is. To stop me from crying, he gave up the first souvenir he bought after coming to America.
Despite our age difference, being almost a decade apart, he would try effort -- he would try to make an effort to make our relationship work. Whether it would be taking me out to lunch during the summer or bringing me to our other cousins' house for pizza, he would always try.
My only regret was, I was young and I didn't reciprocate the effort back to him. Another event I recall was, we were at a family gathering, and our younger cousins casually mentioned that we hadn't had a barbecue in a long time. Joe heard this and a few days later, he bought a grill and invited all of us to his house for a barbecue.
Even though his barbecue was not the best, because there was no burgers, no hot dogs, the effort was there, and we didn't blame him, because at the time we knew there was going to be more barbecues in the future. But, sadly, there won't be. He won't be there anymore.
He was the most caring and thoughtful cousin that anyone could have. He would go out of his way to make sure we were always happy and taken care of. He brought pride and honor to our family. He was a role model for many, myself included, and will continue to be.
Even though he is gone, he will never be forgotten. There is a quote that goes, they say you die twice. One time, we stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when someone says your name for the last time. As long as Joe's in our heart, he will never be forgotten.
Thank you, everyone, for coming and showing support for the Liu family and the Ramos family. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.
We're honored now to have the father speak of Detective Liu, Mr. Wei Tang Liu.
WEI TANG LIU, FATHER WENJIAN LIU: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
STELTER: Member of Wenjian Liu's family speaking at the funeral for him that is underway in Brooklyn, New York, gone, but never forgotten, they say.
And as we continue to look at these live pictures, we heard a few minutes ago from the New York police commissioner, Bill Bratton. He was speaking for the second time in just over a week at a funeral of a slain officer from his force murdered for their color, he said, slain because they were blue.
And, as we stay with these pictures -- and we will return to it as we go on here -- our viewers may have noticed that some of the officers in the crowd had turned their back while the New York mayor, Bill de Blasio, was speaking. Then they turned back toward the JumboTron monitors showing the funeral service as Commissioner Bill Bratton began speaking.
Not every officer, but a significant number of them did turn their backs, as we saw eight days ago at the funeral for Rafael Ramos as well. Reporters up and down the line said they did see a significant number.
So, we want to talk about that, but we also want to focus on the family and on the grieving members inside this funeral home right now.
Let me bring in someone who was joining us a bit earlier this hour, former New York City Police Commissioner Lee Brown.
I would like to hear from you, Lee, what it is like to have to deliver the sort of the comments that we just heard from Commissioner Bratton.
BROWN: It is very difficult. And one of the most difficult things to do as a police commissioner is to attend the funeral of one of your police officers, and particularly to speak at one of those services.
When one police officer hurts, all hurt, the commissioner more so probably than others, because he is responsible for those officers. When they lose their life, it is something that is taken personally, and something the police commissioner regrets very, very deeply.
So it is a very sad occasion when a police officer loses his or her life.
STELTER: Also here with me is retired New York City Police Detective Tom Verni.
And, Tom, I wanted to ask you about one line that we heard from the commissioner. He said -- he was talking about these officers being the good ones, and then he said, "Almost all of them are the good ones. Very few are not.'
That seemed to me to be a moment for Bratton to try to respond to some of the protests that we have seen in recent weeks and months in New York and elsewhere in the country.
TOM VERNI, RETIRED NYPD DETECTIVE: Yes.
I just -- this whole thing is just heart-wrenching. I can't even imagine -- the father got up to speak, and it has -- if it does not rip a hole in your heart, I don't really understand how you cannot even associate with the grief that they are going through.
And, by and large, the overwhelming majority of police officers, whether it be in New York City or otherwise, are very good, they are very professional, they do their jobs correctly.
I think, statistically, I think it is less than one-half of 1 percent of officers, at least in the NYPD, are involved in some sort of issues regarding internal affairs or investigations or fired or arrested.
So, it's a very, very -- and compared to other departments and other professions, I think that is probably the lowest that you are going to find.
STELTER: Also sitting here with us, Harry Siegel of "The New York Daily News" and Errol Louis of New York One.
Errol, tell me what you think the consequences will be not at this moment, but down the line, to see the second protest by some of the officers, not all, but some of them at this funeral.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I am hoping I am wrong, but to me it seems that this is now baked in, that every place the mayor goes, there will be some calculated act of defiance or disrespect from rank-and-file officers, unless something changes.
What that something is, I don't know. And it is very unfortunate, very unfortunate. STELTER: And, Harry, let's make the point that we were making
off camera a couple of minutes ago. That is, we don't know if the people we're seeing in the crowd are all local officers or ones from out of state that have been come to choose to turn their backs on the New York City mayor to make a statement.
HARRY SIEGEL, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": And we also don't know what ranks these officers are.
The captains union, for instance, their head said specifically not to do this. And to what Errol was saying, one of my big questions is how calculated this is. Is this what about the unions want? Or do they in some sense have tiger by the tail, and having objected the mayor so strenuously, are now unable to restrain a lot of individual cops from just deciding to make these statements, whether they tell them to or not.
STELTER: Detective Verni, let me channel what I hear from some New Yorkers online this morning.
This is from Julissa Baez. She said: "If the NYPD officers who have turned their backs don't respect their bosses, then what's the hope for the rest of us?"
What is the response to those New Yorkers who are very concerned about this sort of protest?
I can appreciate their perception that the NYPD is just going to go and just completely shut down and not fight crime anymore in the city. And that is just simply not going to happen. Clearly, officers, a large majority of the officers in the NYPD have their issues with the mayor, and I think rightfully so, based on the mayor's behavior towards them since he was even a candidate, but especially recently, after the no true bill on Staten Island and the remarks he made after that.
But they do respect Commissioner Bratton. And Commissioner Bratton is their immediate boss. And I think they will continue to do their jobs in a professional way, just like they have been.
STELTER: We see in these live shots now the white gloves of so many of these officers, many of them still outside, by the thousands. And we look now inside again at the funeral that continues to go on.
And let's go back to the reason why are are -- actually, we -- let's actually listen back in, because now we're going to hear from the wife of Detective Liu.
PEI XIA CHEN, WIFE OF WENJIAN LIU: Good morning.
My name is Pei Xia Chen. I'm Wenjian's wife.
I would to thank each and every one of you for attending Wenjian's service today to honor the memory and pay respect to the life of my husband, Wenjian Liu.
I know that many of you had to travel long distance from all parts of the country and beyond. I thank you. I thank you for sharing this moment with me, with us, with our family to reflect the goodness of his soul and the wonderful man that he is that many of you know as Joe, especially at work. But, to me, he is my soul mate.
Wenjian is an incredible husband, son, co-worker, and friend, my best friend. But he is much more. My husband had a passion for many things. His passion extended for his love of nature and outdoors. As the only son, the number one son, he was extremely close to and respected -- respected his parents, of course, besides me.
His parents is his everything. One of his many passions is being a police officer. He took pride in the fact that he is NYPD. Wenjian was a very hardworking cop, so much so he found not just a job to provide for myself and his parents, but a career that he enjoyed and more importantly to be passionate about it.
Even though he spent a lot of hours working, he was fearless in and out of work. He spoke about work (ph) often how much respect he has for the law, how he applied the law.
He was objective in his determination of the law with courtesy, with respect and with the highest professionalism. Although he worked often, he will always make sure to take time for me, his number one fan, his family and his friends. He was always there when anyone needed something.
When Wenjian was not working, Wenjian cared a lot for the Chinese community. He wanted to always do his best to help and support. The very community that he was part of, Wenjian is kind hearted and well loved by his friend, colleagues and our extended family that is here today.
The caring son, a loving husband and a loyal friend. You are an amazing man. Even though you left us early, but I believe that he is still with us. His spirit will continue to look after us. He will keep an eye over us (INAUDIBLE).
Wenjian is my hero. We can always count on him.
Again, I thank you, my extended family, my family of blue, for attending today's services. Thank you. Wenjian will always live in our hearts, my heart. We love you. I love you forever (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)