NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo was remembered Thursday afternoon as a fierce “American hero,” “family-man,” and “protector” at a funeral that drew thousands of fellow officers to a Long Island church.
“Paul was everything we could wish for in a police officer. Conscientious, hardworking, courageous, driven to protect,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said of the 41-year-old veteran cop at the packed Saint Rose of Lima Church in Massapequa.
“Paul was the protector, he instinctively put others before himself,” said O’Neill who remembered Tuozzolo for his calm demeanor and “dry sense of humor.”
The city’s top cop posthumously promoted Tuozzolo, who leaves behind a wife and two young boys, to sergeant-special assignment — an announcement greeted by a standing ovation.
Mayor de Blasio told mourners, “In his final act on this earth he served in exemplary fashion doing his all, giving his all for all of us.”
“There’s one fewer dangerous person on the street today because Sgt. Tuozzolo took the lead. That is the measure of the man. He gave his life protecting his fellow officers, protecting all of us,” de Blasio said.
Tuozzolo’s casket, draped in the Police Department’s green, white and blue flag, was carried into the church by police pallbearers as a sea of blue officers in silent salute crowded the streets surrounding the Roman Catholic church on Bayview Avenue.
Hundreds of NYPD motorcycles led the funeral procession down Merrick Road.
Tuozzolo’s wife Lisa sobbed clutching the hands of her two young sons, Austin and Joseph, as her husband’s casket was led into the church with bag pipes playing “Amazing Grace.”
De Blasio, his wife Chirlane McCray, O’Neill and former top cop Bill Bratton stood front and center outside of the church during the somber procession.
“Today we come together to honor an American hero,” NYPD Deputy Chief Chaplain Msgr. Robert Romano told the church full of mourners wearing blue ribbons.
“It doesn’t get easier and don’t let anyone ever tell you that but the important thing is to know that you are supported by one another, by a family who loves you, by a family who cares for you, but more important this family,” said Romano to Tuozzolo’s family members, referring to the law community.
Tuozzolo of Huntington, LI, was murdered by a career criminal in The Bronx last Friday during a chaotic shootout.