The nation’s largest city was mourning the execution-style murder of two police officers Sunday as controversy flared between Mayor Bill de Blasio and his police union.
Police said Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, walked up to a patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday and fatally shot officers Wenjian Liu, a seven-year veteran of the force, and Rafael Ramos, who joined in 2012. Other officers pursued Brinsley to a nearby subway station where he apparently committed suicide, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said.
“When a police officer is murdered, it tears at the foundation of our society. It is an attack on all of us,” de Blasio said.
But as the mayor and his entourage on Saturday walked through Woodhull Hospital, where the officers had been pronounced dead, dozens of police officers literally turned their backs on the de Blasio as he passed.
De Blasio and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch have been at odds since a New York grand jury earlier this month declined to indict an officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner. Lynch accused de Blasio of failing to support officers and suggested that the mayor would not be welcome at funerals for police officers should they die on the job.
“That blood on the hands starts at the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor,” Lynch said Saturday. “After the funerals, those responsible will be called on the carpet and held accountable.”
The shooting comes at a time when police across the USA are being criticized for their tactics following widely publicized deaths of unarmed black men. A week before the Garner decision, a Missouri grand jury decided not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown. Those cases kicked off ongoing demonstrations across the nation.
Brinsley, 28, wrote on an Instagram account before Saturday’s shootings: “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs,” two city officials with direct knowledge of the case confirmed for the Associated Press. He used the hashtags Shootthepolice RIPErivGardner (sic) RIPMikeBrown.