NEW YORK CITY – Thousands flocked to the streets surrounding New York City’s famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Friday to say their final goodbyes to fallen New York City Det. Jason Rivera, who was lovingly called “Tata.”
Police and law enforcement from throughout the country – and some from outside the U.S., including Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates – joined loved ones and the public in honoring the 22-year-old fledgling officer, who was shot and killed by a domestic violence suspect earlier this month, police have said.
Light snow began just before the funeral was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. The services would be live-streamed for those unable to attend in person. The New York Police Department (NYPD) began closing surrounding streets – nearly two street dozen blocks – at 6 a.m.
Lines of police vehicles approaching the cathedral extended for miles. Music blared in the moments before the ceremony began.
Fighting back tears throughout her time at the podium, Rivera’s wife, Dominique Luzuriaga, described how she is in “this nightmare that I wish I never had.”
“Full of rage and anger, hurt and sad,” she continued. “Although I gained thousands of Blue Brothers and sisters, I’m the loneliest without you. I know you’re looking at me and beside me telling me I could do this, and I’m trying. Trust me, I am. But I didn’t prepare for this.”
Luzuriaga said Rivera made her feel “alive” and said he would be “so happy” to see everyone there “through pain and sorrow.”
“This is exactly how he would have wanted to be remembered like a true hero,” she said. “You have the whole nation on gridlock. And although you won’t be here anymore, I want you to live through me.”
She went on to say how the system “continues to fail us.”
“We are not safe anymore. Not even the members of the service,” Luzuriaga said. “I know you were tired of these laws, especially the ones from the new D.A,” she added, presumably in reference to newly minted Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who was in the audience at the time.
“I’m sure all of our blue family is tired too,” she continued. “But I promise, we promise that your death won’t be in vain. I love you to the end of time.”
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell told the crowd New York City has always been “a city of lights.”
“And Police Officer Jason Rivera was one of the brightest,” she said. The top cop posthumously promoted Rivera to Detective First Grade.
“Only 22 years, Jason found the woman and the career of his dreams. Many don’t accomplish that in their entire lifetimes,” Sewell said. “He was a man of unbounded generosity, humble heart. He showed us how to be better. His selfless acts of humility have been remembered over the past week.”
Sewell added: “His loss is extremely difficult. For us all to bear. Jason rose to every challenge that crossed his path. He was everything the city and the NYPD needed him to be.”
“We as a city, as a state and as a nation, we say, thank you, Jason,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said. “Today, our hearts are with his beautiful family.”
Following the funeral, a procession will travel south on Fifth Avenue from 49th Street to 34th Street and will then make its way to Rivera’s final resting place in Westchester, New York.
Two firetrucks will hold an American flag draped over the procession route around 43rd Street.
Rivera and Wilbert Mora, 27, were shot Friday evening while responding to a report of a domestic violence incident in Harlem involving a mother and her adult son, Lashawn McNeil.
Along with a third officer, the pair met with the woman and had begun to approach the back bedroom, where they were told McNeil was staying. As they approached, McNeil opened fire and struck Rivera and Mora. The third officer returned fire and critically injured McNeil.
Rivera died Friday shortly after the shooting.
Mora, who suffered a gunshot wound to the head, succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday. He donated his organs and was ultimately able to save five lives. Services have been scheduled for Feb. 1 and Feb. 2, and will also be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
McNeil allegedly used a high-capacity magazine and a handgun, both of which were found to have been stolen. He died from his injuries on Monday.
Fox News’ Lissa Kaplan contributed to this report.