Sunday, January 30, 2022

PREVENTABLE LOSS OF LIFE: NYPD Have Emotional Funeral for Detective Jason Rivera

Source: NBC New York

Published: January 28, 2022


What to Know

  • Two NYPD officers, Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, died after they were shot in Harlem Friday while responding to a domestic violence call
  • Rivera's funeral is Friday at St. Patrick's Cathedral; Mora's funeral will be held Feb. 2
  • Accused gunman Lashawn McNeil died of his wounds Monday after being shot by a third officer

Huge crowds of friends, fellow officers, family members and other mourners said their final goodbyes Friday to a 22-year-old NYPD officer who was shot and killed a week ago in Harlem.

Ofc. Jason Rivera was posthumously promoted to Detective 1st Grade during the funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral Friday morning. His widow was presented with his shield.

"I would say good morning to you all, but in fact it's the worst morning ever," his tearful widow Dominque Luzuriaga said during her heart-rending eulogy of her fallen husband. "Today I'm still in this nightmare I wished I never had.

"Although I gained thousands of blue brothers and sisters, I'm the loneliest without you," she said.

Awash in unimaginable grief and sadness, Luzuriaga described how she and her husband had gotten into an argument the day he was killed. As the couple left Rivera's apartment, she ordered an Uber. Rivera offered to give her a ride, but she declined because she didn't want to keep arguing.

"I said no, and that was probably the biggest mistake I ever made," she said.

Luzuriaga recalled the horror of seeing cellphone alerts about two officers being shot in Harlem. Her worries grew as she texted and called the former elementary school classmate she married this past October, begging him to respond even though she knew he had been angry with her. She got no answer until the call that summoned her to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

"I couldn't believe you left me. Seeing you in a hospital bed wrapped in sheets, not hearing you when I was talking to you, broke me," she said. "I asked why. I said to you, 'Wake up, baby, I'm here.' The little bit of hope I had that you would come back to life just to say goodbye or say 'I love you' one more time has left. I was lost. I'm still lost."

His older brother told an absolutely silent cathedral just how much being a cop meant to Jason Rivera.

"My brother's first love was policing. That was his first love," an emotional Jeffrey Rivera, said. "He would literally wake up in the middle of the night policing. He was obsessed with his career in law enforcement ... My brother had a lot of fears. He was afraid of heights, rats, dogs. He wasn't afraid to die to wear that uniform."

Police filled the pews at St. Patrick's Cathedral, and a sea of blue uniforms stretched for blocks as snow drifted outside the city's iconic church. Mayor Eric Adams, himself a retired NYPD captain, said he saw an echo of himself in the slain officer who joined a department he hoped he could make better.

“He did it for the right reasons — he wanted to make a difference,” said Adams, a Democrat who also sounded a message of support for a department that, like others, has faced criticism amid a national reckoning with policing, race and what public safety should mean.

“There were days when I felt the public did not understand and appreciate the job we were doing, and I want to tell you officers: They do. They do,” Adams said.

“The horror that took their lives is an affront to every decent, caring human being in this city and beyond,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said, telling any criminals in the city to “see the presence in this cathedral — the NYPD will never give up this city.”

"The system continues to fail us. We are not safe anymore," a heartbroken Dominique Luzuriaga said in a tearful memorial to her fallen husband.
After the funeral, Rivera’s casket, draped in a green, white and blue NYPD flag, was taken via funeral procession with family, members of the 32nd Precinct and a police motorcycle entourage to Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, where Rivera was cremated and laid to rest.

Officers came from near and far to honor Rivera, who was just into his second year on the job. Row after row of uniformed officers, ten deep for blocks and blocks, stood shoulder to shoulder, unflinching in the falling snow for nearly three hours.

The officers listened on loudspeakers as Rivera's family members shared their anguish. Many civilians joined in mourning the slain officer, standing shoulder to shoulder with uniformed officers who wore black sashes over their badges.

There was an incredible show of support from non-police New Yorkers during Thursday's wake as well, from many who waited in the frigid temperatures to say goodbye. Some, like Frank Pena, knew Rivera: He owns the Inwood Pharmacy where Rivera used to work during his college years.

Pena said Rivera was proud of his Dominican roots, and that he loved the city and wanted to serve it.

"Jason was something special. Since the beginning, since I first saw him, he was pure happiness. Willing to help people, always wanting to be a police officer," Pena said. "There was something special, always helping people. Everything. It's really hard to take it."

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