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Widow Pei Xia Chen: Slain Det. Wenjian Liu 'was my soulmate'

NYPD officers escort Pei Xia Chen, the wife

NYPD officers escort Pei Xia Chen, the wife of slain Det. Wenjian Liu, as she leaves her house in Brooklyn on Jan. 4, 2015, for the funeral of her husband of two months. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Det. Weinjian Liu, one of two NYPD officers killed execution-style in their patrol car last month, was remembered and honored by his family, city leaders and thousands of his colleagues from across the country at his funeral Sunday morning.

"The wonderful man that he is, that many of you know as 'Joe' at work, to me, he is my soulmate," the officer's wife of two months, Pei Xia "Sandy" Chen said, speaking in front of flowers and a photo of her late husband in uniform.

Chen, who broke down in tears while saying farewell to her husband, called him "an incredible husband, son, coworker and friend."

"He is my hero," she said.

Earlier, NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton said had said,"Det. Liu believed in the possibility of making a safer world, all cops do, it's why we do what we do. It's why we run towards danger when others run away."

Bratton recounted Liu's life with his family as they left their native China when he was 12 years old. He was a boy who helped his family when he could and was on a path to becoming an accountant when the 9/11 terror attacks occurred.

"Some people witnessed that horrible day and were paralyzed," Bratton said. "Det. Liu witnessed it and saw the possibility of service."

Bratton called Liu a "patient" man, whose family said he knew how to make a good soup and pick out a good vegetable.

"He shared his culture, a culture he was so proud of," Bratton said. "He was, after all, a good man, a humane man. He was a New York City cop."

Liu's father Wei Tang Liu spoke in Chinese, breaking down during and after his tribute to his son, recalling that he would help his father finish his work and had taken his parents on his honeymoon. Liu's cousins also spoke, saying "He brought pride and honor to our family."

FBI Director James B. Comey spoke of the heartbreak of Liu's family members, as they mourned the loss of the man who was an only child.

"These are our most difficult days," Comey said. "Although we all mourn his loss, they mourn him in a way we could never know," Comey said.

Dignitaries spoke at a podium next to a photo of Liu in his police blues with an American flag behind him, surrounded by large bouquets of flowers.

"All of our city is heartbroken today," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. As he spoke, some of the officers watching turned their backs while others did not. Officers had turned their back at the funeral of the other slain officer, Rafael Ramos

"All of this city wants to lift up the Liu family and the Ramos family," said the mayor, who described Liu as a "good man . . . he walked a path of sacrifice, he walked a path of kindness." De Blasio recalled how Liu would often help the homeless, buying them meals and making sure they were warm.

He called for "mutual understanding" and "living in harmony." He said, "Let us move forward by strengthening the bonds that unite us."

Some estimated 25,000 people, including thousands of officers, attended the service, many watching in the rain on giant television screens set up for the occasion outside the funeral home.

Earlier, a procession of NYPD officers eight blocks long in dress blue and white gloves stood at attention, preparing to march toward the funeral home. Cops from other towns and cities were set to follow them.

The sea of officers stood 15-people deep, taking up two lanes of the street.

A group of 60 people from the Chinese community in and around Addison, New Jersey also took buses to the funeral.

"As a mother I feel how his parents feel. He's the only child in the family and I feel like it's the minimum thing we can do for this family to support," said Jing Holm, 46, of Bayville, New Jersey.

Holm and her 12-year-old daughter woke up at 6 a.m. to honor the fallen officer.

"At least from our hearts and we can support this family," Holm said.

Liu's wife, dressed in black, looked stricken as she was escorted inside the Ralph Aievoli and Sons funeral home by two NYPD officers.

The surrounding blocks in the Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, were closed off to traffic as large television screens were set up outside the funeral home to allow attendees outside to view the ceremony.

A 20-year resident of 65th Street, Pedro Cruz, became teary-eyed and said he felt "very bad" about what happened to the two murdered police officers. He said he didn't mind the disruption in his neighborhood caused by the funeral preparations, including early-morning mic checks, but rather supported them: "This is good because it shows that we care for these police officers."

NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton had asked asked officers in a memo to refrain from turning their backs at the wake, saying memorials are "about grieving, not grievance."

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who attended, said the assassination of the two officers "tore a wound open for the city" and that the city is "overflowing with grief." King, who has publicy chastised de Blasio in recent weeks, said the mayor has a chance to unite the city and heal the wounds left with the NYPD.

"I hope the mayor make moves going forward, but I hope they won't turn their backs. They've made their point and shown their agony and suffering," King said. "I could see the mayor is clearly devastated."

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who arrived with King, said there would be a large showing of Nassau County police officers.

"We're coming together to honor the pact they made to put our lives above theirs," Mangano said. "Our thoughts are with family. This was a young man who lost his life far too young. He put his life before others and made sure we have a society where we can practice all we believe in."

Mangano, along with Nassau County Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter and First Deputy County Executive Rob Walker, paid their respects before Liu's funeral began.

Mangano said a photo of Liu was at an altar inside the funeral home. Liu's coffin was flanked by flowers and incense was burned.

"We went in; we said a prayer," said Mangano. "It's very sad."

The officers from outside New York, as well as local residents, had strong words as they addressed the recent protests against police brutality and the way de Blasio has handled the situation.

"Across the county we seem to be under attack . . . we're public servants not public enemies," said Captain Patrick Yoes, of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's office in Louisiana, who was able to attend with a free flight from Jet Blue.

"We're feeling it out here in our community also. It's nationwide," said Vierra, the officer from California. "We feel it's important for us to show our solidarity with the NYPD."

Resident Lorraine Sarutto, 67, said: "I think they know we stand behind them," she said.

Sarutto, of Dyker Heights, said the current tensions with police and de Blasio are creating more racial tensions in the neighborhood.

Captain Mark Candies, of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's office said he's received a huge outpouring of gratitude from NYPD cops.

"It's like a family reunion and meeting relatives you didn't know you had," said Candies. "It's wonderful."

His colleague, Lt. George Breedy, said: "We're here to grieve and we're here to console."

Small memorials decorated 65th Street from residents, including blue ribbons on light poles. Signs posted messages like, "We ... (love) NYPD" and signs in Chinese.

In front of the funeral home, a black wreath rested on the sidewalk with the message, "Hero Det. Liu." Police also set up metal barricades.

Lt. Carl Moore, of the Petersburg, Va. police department said he drove up to New York Sunday morning with three of his colleagues on their day off.

"I think it's important to show some solidarity with our brothers in blue," said Moore. "I know they're going through a tough time.

"They sacrificed their lives so the least we can do is make a trip," he said.

Officer Lucas Grant, of the Richmond County Sheriff's office in Augusta, Ga. came with about six other cops from departments in his region "to support family."

In his dress blues and pristine white gloves he said: "We want to show our support . . . and come together as a family."

John Mangan, 61, of Levittown, staked out a spot outside of the funeral home with a sign with two messages: "God Bless the NYPD" and "Dump de Blasio."

Mangan, a 20-year retired veteran of the NYPD who said he also attended Ramos' funeral last weekend, said hundreds if cops of cops swarmed him for pictures with his sign and he expects the same to happen today.

At Saturday's wake for Liu, NYPD members saluted his coffin as other mourners bowed and lit incense in a somber wake that fused the department's tradition with Buddhist ritual.

Police officers passed out blue rubber bracelets with the slain officers' names and the words: "We won't forget your sacrifice."

William Wang, of Queens, came for the second day in a row to pay his respects. Liu's wife used to work for him at an insurance company, he said.

"We're here for the community to support the NYPD and support the family as well," he said. "this is a very difficult time not only for family but also for the community, because officer Liu is the first Chinese police [officer] who has died."

Wang said it was good for the Chinese community to be represented in the NYPD, and Liu's loss is felt by all.

Police from as far as Los Angeles and New Orleans were among those who lined up around the block for Liu's wake on Saturday, which also drew mourners from the city's Asian-American communities.

Cops and civilians Saturday held umbrellas against snow and rain outside the funeral home, two miles from the home where Liu, 32, had recently moved with Pei Xia Chen, the woman he married two months before his death.

Liu and Ramos were posthumously promoted to detective first grade.

De Blasio paid respects inside the funeral home Saturday for about 15 minutes Saturday. Mourners also included Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Bratton, former deputy Mayor Joseph Lhota and Steven McDonald, an NYPD officer from Malverne left quadriplegic by an on-the-job shooting in 1986.

FBI director James Comey was scheduled to attend the funeral Sunday.

Liu, who moved to the United States with his parents when he was a teenager, is the first Chinese-American NYPD officer slain in the line of duty.

With Sarah Armaghan, Maria Alvarez and Alison Fox.

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