Fifth Avenue in New York City was a moving sight on Friday as thousands of law enforcement officers gathered for the funeral of 22-year-old NYPD cop Jason Rivera. Rivera, who was posthumously promoted to detective during Friday’s service, was killed in the line of duty while responding to a call in Harlem last week.
Rivera’s partner Wilbert Mora also died following the ambush, after undergoing two surgeries and remaining on life support for four days. Mora, whose organ donations saved five lives, will be honored with a funeral next Wednesday.
Outside the funeral service for Rivera in St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Friday, law enforcement officers braved the snow to stand together in Rivera’s honor, filling Fifth Avenue in an awe-inspiring display.
The outpouring of support is especially striking after the last year and a half of intensified antagonism against police. Last week, the FBI reported that intentional killings of law enforcement officers were at a 20-year high. Excluding the law enforcement personnel killed on 9/11, the recent numbers are the highest since 1995.
Rivera’s 22-year-old widow, Dominique Luzuriaga, offered a moving eulogy and recounted that she and her husband had fought the day he died.
“We left your apartment, and because I didn’t want to continue to argue, I ordered an Uber. You asked me, if ‘Are you sure you don’t want me to take you home? It might be the last ride I give you.’ I said, no. And that was probably the biggest mistake I ever made,” she said.
“Later that day I received the call I wish none of you that are sitting here with me will ever receive. … I saw two police officers were shot in Harlem. I immediately texted you and asked you, ‘Are you OK. Please tell me you are OK. I know you are mad right now, but just text me you are OK. Just tell me you are busy.’ I get no response,” she continued. “And this time I felt something wasn’t right.”
Luzuriaga also directed frustration at Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, saying, “The system continues to fail us. We are not safe anymore, not even members of service. I know you were tired of these laws, especially from ones from the new DA.”
“I hope he is watching you speak through me right now. I’m sure all of our blue family is tired too, but I promise your death won’t be in vain,” she said. “We’ll take the watch from here.”