Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday defended his decision to fly to Germany to provide an alternative to President Donald Trump’s voice the day after an NYPD officer was ambushed and shot dead in the Bronx.
Speaking at an unrelated news conference on rat reduction, de Blasio said he wouldn’t have gone on the trip if the funeral for the police officer, Miosotis Familia, had conflicted with the Germany event, a rally in Hamburg to coincide with the G-20 summit of global leaders.
“I feel so bad for this family,” de Blasio said of the three children and extended family of Familia, 48. “I spent a lot of time with this family Monday in their home. And just unbelievable pain, but also unbelievable strength in that family.”
Some police labor unions criticized de Blasio for leaving the city soon after Familia’s shooting July 5. He departed, with little notice to the press or public, with plans to see his son, who is living for the summer in Europe, and attend other events related to the summit.
De Blasio called the opportunity to speak “very special.”
On Wednesday, de Blasio recounted the heart-rending moments with the family and Police Commissioner James O’Neill needed to deliver the news of Familia’s death.
“We went into the officer’s room in the hospital as she was dying,” he said.
Familia was slain just after midnight on July 5 by Alexander Bonds, a mentally ill gunman who in the past posted on Facebook obscenity-laced criticism of the police. He was killed by responding police officers after brandishing a gun, the NYPD has said.
While in Germany, de Blasio missed a vigil Saturday outside Familia’s 46th Precinct. De Blasio said the vigil hadn’t been scheduled when he departed and noted that O’Neill didn’t attend either. Both men attended the wake on Monday and the funeral Tuesday.
Also Wednesday, de Blasio shrugged off a silent protest by some police officers who turned their backs on his eulogy outside Familia’s funeral a day earlier. He called the display “sad.”