NEW YORK (AP) – Accompanied by the sounds of bagpipes and sobs, city officials, family members and police on Sunday honored the lives of two officers who were shot to death a year ago while in their cruiser.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton dedicated two bronze plaques inscribed with the names of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos outside the entrance of Brooklyn's 84th Precinct. The officers were killed on Dec. 20, 2014.
Ramos and Liu "were faithful to all that is good," Bratton said. "These memorial plaques will be mounted in the station house for all times, so that anyone that enters this station house will be reminded of their sacrifice."
A New York Police Department helicopter flew overhead in honor of the slain officers, and bagpipers played.
Hundreds of NYPD officers in dress uniform, many in tears, stood listening to Liu's father, Wei Tang Liu, bent over in grief and sobbing as he spoke in Chinese about his only child.
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Liu's wife, Sandy Liu, translated, breaking down as she spoke her father-in-law's words: "Before my son's death, I would hear his voice every day for the past 33 years of his life."
Liu's father thanked those who had reached out to the family.
"We are so grateful for all the love and support for the past year," he said.
Later, officials laid wreaths on the sidewalk near the spot where the police cruiser had been parked.
"Because of the uniform they wore, because of the badge they wore, it was not only an attack on these two good and brave men, but an attack on all of us — an attack on everything we value and everything we hold dear," de Blasio said.
The two officers were shot at point-blank range through their cruiser window. The gunman then killed himself with the same weapon. He had posted on Instagram that he wanted to put "wings on pigs" and referenced Eric Garner, whose police chokehold death led to protests against the New York Police Department.
Investigators say the shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, was an emotionally disturbed loner, who started off his rampage by shooting an ex-girlfriend in Baltimore. He also posted online threats to police and made references to high-profile cases of unarmed black men killed by white police officers.
The killings ramped up emotions in the already tense national debate over police conduct. Since Ramosand Liu were killed, police in New York say they've arrested six people accused of threatening officers. A seventh man was arrested Thursday on gun charges after a bystander overheard him making threats against police officers and talking about guns in his home.
Ramos, who was 40, had joined the NYPD in 2012 after working as a school security officer.
The lifelong Brooklyn resident was married with two sons: a 13-year-old who is in middle school and one who attends Bowdoin College in Maine.