Manhattan, NY – The widow of slain New York Police Officer Jason Rivera blasted Manhattan’s new district attorney over his progressive policies and soft-on-crime approach as she delivered her husband’s eulogy on Friday.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was sitting just yards away from Dominique Luzuriaga as she addressed the thousands of mourners who gathered for her 22-year-old husband’s funeral service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown Jan. 28, the New York Daily News reported.
Officer Rivera was gunned down in the line of duty on Jan. 21 by a career criminal who was on probation at the time.
His partner, New York Police Officer Wilbert Mora, 27, was also shot in the attack and died of his wounds on Jan. 25.
“You have the whole nation on gridlock,” Luzuriaga said, referring to her murdered husband. “And although you won’t be here anymore, I want you to live through me.”
“The system continues to fail us. We are not safe anymore, not even the members of the service,” she continued.
“I know you were tired of these new laws, especially the ones from the new DA,” Luzuriaga said. “I hope he’s watching you speak through me right now.”
She remained stoic as the crowd erupted into applause and gave her a standing ovation.
“I’m sure all of our blue family is tired too, but I promise – we promise – that your death won’t be in vain,” Luzuriaga said. “I love you to the end of time. We’ll take the watch from here.”
Bragg unveiled his 10-page, soft-on-crime policies on Jan. 3, just two days after taking office, the New York Post reported.
He ordered his staff to seek reduced charges for certain offenses, to stop asking for bail except in the most extreme cases, and to stop prosecuting so-called low-level offenses altogether, the New York Post reported.
Bragg said his office will no longer prosecute offenders accused of resisting arrest unless they are also charged for with a more serious felony offense.
Suspects arrested for armed robbery of a business will automatically have their charges reduced to misdemeanor petit larceny as long as they don’t use guns, don’t seriously injure anyone, and present no “genuine risk of physical harm,” Bragg said in his memo, according to the New York Post.
New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Keechant Sewell, who recently took office after being appointed by New York Mayor Eric Adams, issued an email to the city’s police force Jan. 7.
Commissioner Sewell said Bragg’s progressive approach tells law enforcement the city does not back them and that they are not protected, according to the paper.
“I have studied these policies and I am very concerned about the implications to your safety as police officers, the safety of the public and justice for the victims,” Commissioner Sewell wrote, referring to Bragg’s directives.
“I am making my concerns known to the Manhattan District Attorney and hope to have frank and productive discussions to try and reach more common ground,” the commissioner added, according to the New York Post.
Bragg released a statement after Officer Rivera’s funeral on Friday, saying he is “grieving and praying for Detective Rivera and Officer Mora today and every day,” adding that his “thoughts are with their families and the NYPD,” the New York Daily News reported.
“Violence against police officers will never be tolerated,” the district attorney added. “My office will vigorously prosecute cases of violence against police and work to prevent senseless acts like this from ever happening again.”
Luzuriaga’s powerful speech included details about the couple’s day-to-day lives and some of the difficulties they faced due to Officer Rivera’s job obligations.
The couple had an argument just before Officer Rivera left for what would ultimately be his final shift, Luzuriaga tearfully revealed.
The young widow said she was tired of Officer Rivera using his “job phone” when they were together, and that he became upset when she told him to put it away during his off-time.
“You know, it’s hard being a cop wife sometimes,” she explained to the crowd. “It’s hard being patient when plans were canceled or we would go days without seeing each other, or you had to write a report that would take forever because you had to vouch for so many things, so you did [overtime].”
“But you always reminded me that it was going to be alright,” Luzuriaga recalled. “We were going to get through it.”
The last time she spoke with her husband, they were both still fuming from their argument and she opted to take an Uber to work instead of him giving her a ride like he usually would, she said.
“It might be the last ride I give you,” he’d told her, according to Luzuriaga.
“I said no,” she said through tears, “and that was probably the biggest mistake I ever made.”
Luzuriaga said she later learned through an app alert that two officers had been shot in Harlem.
“My heart dropped,” she recalled. “I immediately texted you and asked you, ‘Are you okay? Please tell me you’re okay. I know that you’re mad right now, but just text me you’re okay. At least tell me you’re busy.’”
But there was no reply.
Luzuriaga used their “Find My iPhone” app and saw Officer Rivera was at Harlem Hospital.
After calling several more times and trying unsuccessfully to reach her husband’s fellow officers, Luzuriaga received a call telling her to come to the hospital.
“Walking up those steps seeing everybody staring at me was the scariest moment I’ve experienced,” she said. “Dozens of people were surrounding me, and yet, I felt alone. I couldn’t believe you left me.”
Luzuriaga said she still feels lost and as if she is living in a nightmare, “full of rage and anger, hurt and sad and torn.”
The couple were childhood sweethearts and had been together since they were 15.
They were married in October of last year.
Newly-sworn-in New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a retired NYPD transit captain, was among the thousands of attendees at Officer Rivera’s funeral service on Friday.
An NYPD sergeant told The Police Tribune that Adams walked behind Officer Rivera’s hearse during the ceremony, displaying a sense of respect and solidarity not commonly seen with other recent New York mayors.
The sergeant said the NYPD rank-and-file were happy to see Adams in attendance and standing beside them.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul also attended the funeral and said Luzuriaga’s eulogy moved her to tears, the New York Post reported.
“It was heartbreaking to see the riveting pain that young widow was experiencing,” Hochul said. “It literally brought me to tears as I was sitting there.”
“It’s still hard to think about what that young woman was going through, her whole life ahead of her and to lose her sweetheart who she had a crush on since they were just in grade school,” the governor continued. “Her pain was real. It was searing to hear and it’s going to be enduring for a long time and we’re just gonna keep her in our prayers.”
Officer Rivera had been a member of the New York City police force for two years when he was murdered, CNN reported.
He was posthumously promoted during his funeral service to the rank of Detective First Grade, according to the New York Daily News.
The series of events leading up to the fatal shooting began shortly after 5 p.m. on Jan. 21, when the NYPD received a report of a domestic disturbance at 119 West 135th Street, the New York Post reported.
Officer Mora responded to the scene along with officer Rivera and Officer Sumit Sulan, 27.
NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said the mother and one of her sons met the officers in the front of the apartment when they arrived, NBC News reported.
They explained that the mother and her other son – later identified as 47-year-old Lashawn McNeil – had had an argument about her diet, the New York Daily News reported.
McNeil was vegan and his mother was not.
He wouldn’t come out of the back bedroom when his mother called him, the New York Daily News reported.
So, two officers went down the hallway to talk to him, NBC News reported.
Neither the mother nor her other son mentioned to police that McNeil might have a weapon, WABC reported.
“As our first officer approached the bedroom, the door swings open and numerous shots are fired, striking both officers,” Chief Essig told reporters during a press conference at Harlem Hospital.
McNeil stepped over Officer Rivera in order to shoot Officer Mora, the New York Daily News reported.
Chief Essig said Officer Sulan, a probationary officer with less than a year on the department, returned fire at the suspect and shot the gunman in the head and chest, NBC News reported.
McNeil was pronounced dead on Jan. 24, the New York Post reported.
Officer Mora, who was shot in the head and had a bullet lodged in his brain, went through two surgeries in the days that followed, the New York Post reported.
The four-year department veteran passed away on Jan 25 after his organs were donated to help save others.
Chief Essig said police recovered Glock 45 handgun with a 40-round magazine that McNeil used to shoot the officers at the scene.
He said detectives had determined the weapon used to shoot the officers was stolen in Baltimore in 2017, NBC News reported.
Chief Essig said that McNeil was on probation when he shot the heroes, the New York Daily News reported.
The cop killer had a criminal record that included a gun charge in North Carolina, assault on a police officer in Pennsylvania, and a felony narcotics charge in New York City.