NYPD Ceremonial Unit talks about honoring fallen officers

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The second of two slain NYPD officers killed during a domestic call in Harlem will be laid to rest this week, with a wake and funeral for Officer Wilbert Mora expected to bring in a sea of officers from around the world -- as they turned out last week for Detective Jason Rivera.

Mora, 27, died at the hospital after he and Rivera were shot on January 21.

The wake for Mora is scheduled for Tuesday, with a funeral to follow Wednesday. Both will be held at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

"The hole in everyone's heart is that we lost two brothers, two fellow officers in a brutal and vicious way," said Lt. Tony Giorgio, former Commanding Officer of the NYPD Ceremonial Unit.

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Being the steward of the final farewell for a line-of-duty death is perhaps the highest honor there is for a fellow officer.

"It brings your memory right back to all those line of duties and all the sadness," Giorgio said. "And just getting through the day is the toughest thing for everyone there, obviously family first."

It is the Ceremonial Unit that executes the wishes of the family, managing all of the arrangements for the service. Giorgio oversaw the last back-to-back NYPD funerals in 2014, after the double assassinations of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

"It brings you back because you're dealing with two families at the same time," he said. "In that case, with Detective Ramos and Detective Liu, they had two different types of religious services, so we had to make sure we were adjusting to what the family's wishes are."

Not only does the unit conduct rituals, it also takes handles of the logistics from street closures to counterterrorism to alerting cell towers of an anticipated surge in usage.

"We must show the families, the other officers and the city that we have your back," Giorgio said.

But paying homage, doesn't end on that day.

"Last Thursday was the 50th anniversary of (officers Gregory) Foster and (Rocco) Laurie being ambushed in 1972," Giorgio said. "Fifty years later, not only were the active members of the 9th Precinct there, retired 10, 20, 30 years retired out of that come together. So, they, the (32nd Precinct) will never forget this. They'll come back whether their careers take them to different precincts or retirements. They'll come back for anniversaries, because it's a hole in the heart that will never be replaced."

A solemn final farewell was held for Rivera Friday, with a police presence already in place before dawn outside the cathedral.

Rivera was just 22 years old and had only joined the force last year. He just got married in October.

His widow Dominique delivered a moving eulogy for her husband, which recounted their last day together. They had a fight that morning about him using his work phone when they were together, but theirs was a love story that began in elementary school.

"Today I'm still in this nightmare that I wish I never had, full of rage and anger, hurt, sad, and torn," she said. "Although I gained thousands of blue brothers and sisters, I'm the loneliest without you."

Watch Dominique Luzuriaga's full eulogy
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NYPD Detective Jason Rivera's widow Ms. Dominique Luzuriaga delivers his eulogy.


Mayor Eric Adams also delivered a moving eulogy, calling Rivera a hero and apologized to his family.

"Today we salute police officer Jason Rivera for the last time," he said. "His journey by our side has ended. He takes another path."
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NYC Mayor Eric Adams gives remarks at the funeral of NYPD Officer Jason Rivera, posthumously promoted to Detective First Grade.


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