Three Nassau cops added to state memorial wall
ALBANY -- With heavy hearts and tears, families and colleagues paid tribute Wednesday to three Nassau County policemen whose names were added to the state's memorial wall for fallen officers.
Arthur Lopez, Joseph P. Olivieri Jr. and Charles D. Cole Jr. were among 16 names etched onto the shrine in the shadow of the State Capitol. For some, it brought a bit of closure. For others, it was an opportunity to grieve a loss with an extended police family.
"This is great. He's going to be up there forever," Charles D. Cole Sr. said, looking up at a wall that now contains 1,340 names.
"It validates him," added Marguerite, his wife.
Their son, 49 years old and a 24-year veteran of the county police department, was one of six officers whose names were added after dying of 9/11-related illness. Cole died in 2011 of a rare form of brain cancer that his family blamed on his work at Ground Zero. Cole's two teenage children also attended the service.
Lopez, 29, of Babylon Village, was fatally shot on Oct. 23 during a confrontation with an ex-convict near the Nassau-Queens border. His parents, Alfonso and Mirella, sat in the front row at the ceremony; his eyes red, hers crying continuously.
"I don't think there will ever be closure because he was murdered," said Charo Ramos, 41, Lopez's older sister and family spokeswoman. She carried a framed photo of her younger brother that fellow Nassau police officers asked to see as they greeted the family in a makeshift receiving line.
"A trip like this, for us, is helpful because we really come together as a family," Ramos said, referring to not only her relatives but also the dozens of Nassau police officers who attended.
"He was literally the future of our unit," Police Officer William Staker said of Lopez. Staker, a training officer in the emergency services unit, said Lopez received eight commendations in less than five years.
His younger brothers, Mike and Paul, were among those who waited in line to make a pencil rubbing of the names carved into the wall. The brothers said they were close -- the three were born in consecutive years.
"The only word for this is sad," Mike said. "It's a sad day and we miss our brother. These things are very nice and we do appreciate them, and our parents appreciate them. But it's just sad."