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Police, Politicians, Gather In New York For Ramos Funeral

Vice President Joe Biden, center, arrives for funeral services for New York City police officer Rafael Ramos at Christ Tabernacle Church, in the Glendale section of Queens, on Saturday.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET

Police from around the country are gathering at the Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens today to honor a fallen comrade, Officer Rafael Ramos, who was fatally shot in an unprovoked attack one week ago along with his partner, Wenjian Liu.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Vice President Joe Biden are in attendance at the funeral, which followed a wake for Ramos on Friday that was attended by hundreds.

"I'm sure I speak for the whole nation when I say to you that our hearts ache for you," the vice president said to the family.

"I do hope you take some solace from, according to the press reports, that 25,000 members of the same fraternity stand with you," Biden said of the officers in attendance.

"Police officers are a different breed," Biden said. "Thank God for them."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the Ramos family for the dignity with which they handled the death of their patriarch.

He also praised the police for their handling of "false and abusive insults" during protests. "What a beautiful testimony to their professionalism."

Cuomo said "an attack on the NYPD is an attack on all of us.

"The threats against New York's police are an assault on law-abiding citizens and they will not be tolerated," he said.

Mayor De Blasio said; "our hearts are aching today. We feel it physically. We feel it deeply. New York City has lost a hero."

He lauded the police as "those who stare down danger. Those who sacrifice for others."

But as he spoke, many officers watching on a giant screen outside the church turned their backs in a gesture of disrespect for the mayor. Some officers had done the same thing last week when De Blasio arrived at the hospital where the slain officers had been brought.

The shootings laid bare a rift between the mayor and the NYPD. Shortly after last Saturday's attack, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association's president, Pat Lynch, accused the mayor of having "blood on his hands" for what is perceived as a lack of support for the department amid protests against police violence.

After the service today, Lynch was asked if he thought officers turning their backs on De Blasio was appropriate at a funeral.

"The feeling is real. But today is about mourning. Tomorrow is for debate," he said. Pressed on the question, Lynch said: "We understand their feeling of betrayal."

During Saturday's wake, Ramos' commanding officer, NYPD Capt. Sergio Centa, said the slain officer had been studying to be a pastor: "He had Bible study books in his locker, which is rare for a police officer, but that goes to show you the type of man he was."

At the service, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton elevated Ramos to honorary chaplain for his precinct.

The Associated Press notes that "when the Ramos family arrived, the eldest son — wearing his father's New York Police Department jacket — was hugged by a police officer."

Funeral plans for Liu have yet to be announced.

Ramos and Liu were shot and killed on Dec. 20 by 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who left online threats and postings suggesting the assault was in response to the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Garner was killed in New York's Staten Island in July after police applied a chokehold; Brown was shot and killed in August in Ferguson, Mo. Both Garner and Brown were unarmed.

Nearly 700 police officers from outside New York arrived on JetBlue Airways flights that were offered by the airline free of charge.

You can read more coverage of the funeral ceremony at member station WNYC's website.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

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