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NYPD Commissioner William Bratton promotes slain Officer Randolph Holder to detective

The flag-draped coffin of slain NYPD Officer Randolph Holder was carried into the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica, Queens, for his funeral service on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, as thousands of men and women in blue braved the elements outside to pay their respects. (Credit: Newsday / Jessica Rotkiewicz)

NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton steadied himself inside a hushed Jamaica church Wednesday at the funeral for slain Officer Randolph Holder and, for the fourth time in 10 months, performed a heart-rending last gesture for one of his fallen: promotion to first-grade detective.

"Detective Randolph Holder, you are relieved of your duty as a New York City police officer, a guardian at the gates of New York City, and we send you on your way . . . to be a guardian angel at the gates of heaven," Bratton said as relatives, friends and hundreds of cops wedged into the packed church applauded.

It was a final tribute to Holder, who will be buried in his native Guyana. He was gunned down at 33 on Oct. 20 as he and his partner, Officer Omar Wallace, patrolled near an East Harlem public housing project.

Before the service began at about 4 p.m., NYPD officers, as well as those from Nassau, Suffolk and departments across the country, consoled one another outside.

Pallbearers in dress blues carried the coffin adorned with the NYPD's green, white and blue flag into Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Queens. Once inside, the flag was replaced with a floral arrangement. The coffin again was flag-draped when it was carried out at the service's close.

The dark, rain-drenched day outside reflected the mood of many inside the church.

When the song "Amazing Grace" played, Holder's father, Randolph Holder Sr., gently rocked the officer's stepmother, Princess Holder.

But amid sadness after yet another killing of an NYPD officer, something approaching lightness, however fleeting, emerged in stories about the guy called Randy.

One after another, tales of Holder's life unfolded -- a verbal picture of a good-humored man, a lover of music.

"He was a gentleman with a quiet purpose and a sense of job fulfillment," said his aunt Margaret Holder as Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio listened. Margaret Holder said her nephew moved to Far Rockaway, Queens, at 21 to be with his dad, stepmom and siblings.

"No one ever saw him angry," she said.

Others described him as a generous spirit, quick to come to the aid of his neighbors in Brooklyn as well as his fellow men and women in blue. The five-year NYPD veteran had a passion for music no matter the style. A favorite hobby was serving as the resident DJ at various family gatherings.

"His personality had everyone who he encountered smiling and laughing," Margaret Holder said.

De Blasio described Randolph Holder as a family man who often started stories with "my grandmother taught me."

The officer also answered to another nickname, "Doc," de Blasio said. He earned the nickname, de Blasio said, because he always had a useful answer when someone needed his help.

Yet as he talked of what made this son of a retired Guyana cop special, de Blasio reminded those listening that those qualities made his loss that much more tragic.

"All of New York City is in pain at this moment," the mayor said.

Floral arrangements rested on the altar and along the sides of the cavernous church. One grouping, shaped like angel wings, had a sign reading "Blue Lives Matter" and "NYC."

Photos of Holder played in a slideshow on a television screen fixed above the altar. Some showed him in uniform with his fellow officers. Others gave a glimpse into his life as a devoted son and brother -- sitting on a couch or smiling with many of the same relatives who sat in the pews Wednesday.

Bratton also used his eulogy to heap praise on Wallace, who returned fire against the suspect, Tyrone Howard, wounding the East Harlem man with a long criminal record.

Police said Howard shot Holder in the head as the officers questioned him.

"On that terrible night," Bratton said of Wallace, "he defended us and he defended his partner. . . . Omar did it all that night. He is a hero."

With Alison Fox and AP

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