The still-grief-stricken father of one of the NYPD partners slain a year ago Sunday wept at a memorial in Brooklyn as he lamented how much he misses his son.
Heaving, sobbing and pausing frequently, Wei Tang Liu said in Chinese that he’d talked to Wenjian Liu nearly every day of his life.
“Before my son’s death, I would hear his voice every day,” according to a translation by his daughter-in-law, Pei Xia Chen, who was also crying. He added: “I’d give anything to see him and hear his voice again.
“For the past year it has been extremely difficult for our family,” he said.
City officials, who commemorated the anniversary of Liu and Rafael Ramos’ killings, unveiled molded bronze plaques honoring the men at their 84th Precinct in Downtown Brooklyn. Several miles away, at the site where they were mortally wounded in front of a public housing development at Myrtle and Tompkins avenues, the families laid two wreaths with the men’s names in silver glitter and draped with blue ribbons at the approximate time of the killings, 2:47 p.m.
“These two men were undoubtedly exceptional,” Mayor Bill de Blasio had said outside the precinct. He added: “These two men had extraordinary integrity.”
On Dec. 20, 2014, a mentally ill man who’d ranted online about “putting wings on pigs,” ambushed Ramos, 40, and Liu, 32, as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The NYPD later posthumously promoted them to detective first-grade, which boosts the benefits their families receive.
“These families will continue to inspire us by their very presence,” de Blasio said, with the men’s loved ones sitting in the front row before him.
Police Commissioner William Bratton said the deaths had the effect of stymieing protests that were gaining momentum nationwide — demonstrations against police misconduct, during which some advocated violence against officers.
“It stopped that insanity,” Bratton said.
Families at Sunday’s ceremony wore buttons with the men’s pictures.
“Over this past year your image has not dimmed,” Bratton said of the slain cops. “It has become even more magnified.”
In the year since the killings, tensions have eased between the police labor unions and the mayor, whose winning 2013 mayoral campaign centered on criticizing the NYPD’s treatment of young black and Latino men. Those tensions exploded the day of the shootings, when cops at the hospital where Liu and Ramos were being treated turned their backs on de Blasio in a sign of disrespect — a protest repeated by some outside Liu’s and Ramos’ funerals. The head of Liu and Ramos’ police union, Patrick Lynch of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, had accused de Blasio of having blood on his hands.
But on Sunday, Lynch hinted at the detente.
“We talk about the anger we felt in our hearts and we feel. And we’ve grown. We worked through that sorrow.”
Nowadays, de Blasio rarely, if at all, criticizes the NYPD.