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Funeral held for NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia, slain in the Bronx

The family of NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia watch

The family of NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia watch as her coffin is carried out of World Changers Church in the Bronx, after the funeral on Tuesday, July 11 2017. Photo Credit: John Roca

Hours before she was gunned down on a Bronx street, a New York City police officer shared what would be a final hug with her 20-year-old daughter.

“I love you,” said the officer, Miosotis Familia. “I’m going to work now.”

Before thousands of mourners Tuesday at Familia’s funeral, Genesis Villella choked back tears as she recalled that last embrace.

“She gave me a really big, tight hug. And I said ‘Oh, I love you, mom,’ and I pinched her cheeks because her cheeks were so cute,” Villella said at a lectern bearing her mother’s portrait. Her 12-year-old twin brother and sister stood behind her.

“And I said, ‘Can I just have one more hug?’ And she said, ‘Of course, of course, you can.’ . . . I said, ‘I love you so much, Mom. I’ll see you tomorrow.’ ”

But there would be no more hugs or pinched cheeks. That night, Familia, a 48-year-old Bronx native and mother of three, would become just the third female officer in the NYPD’s 172-year history to die in the line of duty.

Familia was slain July 5 while sitting in a mobile command vehicle in the troubled Bronx neighborhood where she was assigned on an overnight shift. The gunman was an ex-convict with a history of mental illness who had posted expletive-laced criticisms of police on Facebook.

The funeral — held 12 years to the day that Familia joined the NYPD — drew thousands of officers, their crisp blue uniforms filling several blocks outside World Changers Church in the Bronx.

Inside the packed church, Familia was remembered for her public service and devotion to her family.

Villella told mourners: “I was, and still am, so proud of my mom.”

Police Commissioner James O’Neill sharply questioned a perceived lack of public outrage over the loss of an officer who was “targeted, ambushed and assassinated.”

“Where were the demonstrations for the single mom, who cared for her elderly mother and her own three children?” O’Neill said in his eulogy, by turns mournful and angry. “There is anger and sorrow, but why is there no outrage? Because, Miosotis was wearing a uniform? Because it was her job? I simply do not accept that.”

O’Neill posthumously promoted Familia to the rank of first-grade detective, a tradition bestowed on NYPD officers who die in the line of duty.

“All her killer could see was a uniform, although Miosotis was so much more,” O’Neill said.

Mercedes Proefrock, Familia’s sister, addressed mourners with a hand over her heart.

“We have to show love. This has to stop. . . . Please, if you see a police officer in blue, hug them and say thank you. That’s all she would have asked for,” she said.

The man who shot Familia through the passenger side window, Alexander Bonds, 34, was killed by responding officers after he brandished a revolver, officials said.

The slaying recalled the 2014 ambush of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in Brooklyn. The gunman, a mentally unstable man who traveled to New York to avenge police shootings of blacks, later took his own life.

In a repeat of silent protests by police officers that year over those deaths, some of the police mourning outside Familia’s service turned their backs on the building when Mayor Bill de Blasio, who won his 2013 election with pointed criticism of the NYPD, made his remarks inside.

De Blasio said Familia was killed “solely because she wore a uniform. She was murdered while acting as an agent of peace. And we’ve watched with horror these attacks on our police, here in this city and all around our country.”

It was a change from three years ago, when de Blasio scolded the press for giving undue attention to some protesters who had used incendiary or violent language against police. He called the majority of protesters “good and decent people who do not say negative things, racist things, nasty things to police.”

Mayoral spokesman Austin Finan dismissed Tuesday’s back-turning protest as a “bogus controversy ginned up by the media and those looking to politicize Detective Familia’s death.”

At the service, Familia’s coffin lay at the front of the church, a converted 1920s baroque-style marquee theater that seats 4,000. Her large family, descendants of Dominican immigrants, stood in an embrace on the stage, dressed in black and white.

Along the Grand Concourse, one of the Bronx’s main arteries, streetlights were adorned with blue ribbons. The funeral, murder scene and Familia’s 46th Precinct are all within about a half-mile of each other.

Police officers from as far away as the United Arab Emirates, San Francisco and the Dominican Republic, civilians and politicians from across the city and region were in attendance.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who attended the funeral, said criticism of the police should be kept to a minimum.

“They’ve been subjected to terrible smears and slander over the years,” which “just creates a climate that makes something like this possible,” he said.

Outside the church, Calvin Hunt of Harlem, 55, a retired hotel chef, held a banner adorned with photos of Liu, Ramos, and other NYPD cops slain recently in the line of duty.

His family, which made the banner, didn’t have time to add Familia. So he held her portrait.

“If it wasn’t for the police, we would be in a lot of trouble here in New York City,” He said. “We need NYPD. That’s it.”

Funeral excerpts:

“Let these children know their mother is an American hero and will never be forgotten. And from this day forward, their family will be enhanced by thousands of aunts and uncles in blue.”

— Monsignor Robert Romano, NYPD assistant chief chaplain

“She died the night her nation was born. And she died a patriot, defending all of us.”

— Mayor Bill de Blasio

“This amazing woman, this mother, this daughter, this sister, this friend, this New York City police officer, was assassinated solely because of what she represented and for the responsibility she embraced. All her killer could see was a uniform, even though Miosotis was so much more.”

— Police Commissioner James O’Neill

“We have to show love. This has to stop. Please, if you see a police officer in blue, hug them and say thank you. That’s all she would have asked for.”

— Mercedes Proefrock, sister

“I’m glad that my mom can have such an honorable send-off like this one. I’m glad that she touched your hearts.”

— Genesis Villella, 20, daughter

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