WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump paid tribute Tuesday to slain NYPD detective Miosotis Familia, inviting her family and patrol partner to join him on stage at a ceremony honoring fallen law enforcement officers.
Trump, speaking at the annual Peace Officers Memorial Service on Capitol Hill, veered from his prepared remarks and asked Familia’s loved ones, who were seated among the hundreds of people in attendance, to join him as he honored the nation’s fallen officers.
“We weren’t going to bring you up, but I looked at you in the audience and I said, you have to come up, because you’re representing something so important,” Trump said, turning to Familia’s three children — Genesis Villella, 21, and twins Delilah and Peter Vega, 13 — and her elderly mother, Adrianna Valoy.
Saying the NYPD was “close to my heart,” Trump told the family he had heard “all about,” Familia, who was shot to death last July 5 while on duty in the Bronx. Trump said the 12-year veteran of the NYPD “was respected by everybody.”
“Your mom’s legacy will never ever die,” Trump said.
Familia was killed after she was ambushed by an ex-convict with a history of mental illness. Alexander Bonds shot into the mobile command center that Familia and her partner were staffing overnight along East 183rd Street. The command center, an R.V.-style vehicle, had been placed in the area in response to an uptick in shootings.
Her partner that night, Officer Vincent Maher, spoke Tuesday at Trump’s invitation, choking up as he recalled how Familia had chosen to work in the “one of the roughest” neighborhoods in the city.
“She might have been lost that night, but she saved a lot of lives that night,” Maher said.
Bonds was later shot to death by police, who confronted him as he drew his .38-caliber gun, officials said.
Familia’s shooting prompted an outpouring of support for her three children. About 4,000 mourners crowded into a Bronx church for her funeral service, and more than 25,000 cops from 85 police agencies lined up outside the church and along the Grand Concourse to pay their respects.
Familia’s name will be added to the more than 21,000 fallen officers listed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, a mile from the White House.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said in a Twitter post that the late Det. Steven McDonald of Malverne will also be among the NYPD officers added to the memorial. McDonald, who died last year from a heart attack, gained national attention after he was shot in the spine by a 15-year-old in 1986, paralyzing him from the neck down. McDonald later forgave the shooter.
Before introducing Familia’s family to the stage, Trump used his remarks to call for the death penalty for those found guilty of killing law enforcement officers.
“We must end the attacks on our police, and we must end them right now,” Trump said, adding that he has directed the Department of Justice “to do everything in its power to end attacks on law enforcement.”
After the ceremony, Trump met with Republican senators on Capitol Hill for a luncheon in which he outlined his legislative priorities. According to lawmakers who attended, the president said he planned on campaigning aggressively for Republicans before the midterm elections and pressed the group to support his immigration enforcement agenda.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking to reporters after the lunch, did not go into detail about what was said but noted that Trump was in “a very good mood and really quite funny.”
McConnell then joined the ranks of prominent Republicans who have called on White House special assistant Kelly Sadler to issue an apology to Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona). Sadler reportedly said that McCain, who has brain cancer, is “dying anyway,” by way of dismissing his opposition to Gina Haspel’s nomination as CIA director.
The subject was not brought up at Tuesday’s lunch, McConnell said.
“The person who said that should apologize and should apologize publicly,” McConnell told reporters.