Thousands of mourners, including Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, are expected to attend services this weekend for murdered police officer Rafael Ramos. He was one of two officers shot point-blank by 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who then killed himself.
Officer Ramos’ viewing will be held Friday afternoon beginning at 2 p.m. ET, and his memorial service begins at 7 p.m. ET. The funeral itself, which Biden will attend, is Saturday.
Police were setting up barricades in anticipation of the crowds, reported NBC New York’s Marc Santia. Funeral arrangements for Wenjian Liu, the other officer Brinsley killed, have not yet been announced, as officials say they await family members arriving from China.
On Tuesday, hospital officials said the condition of Shaneka Thompson, Brinsley’s ex girlfriend who he shot in her Baltimore apartment before he got on a bus to New York, had improved. They upgraded her status from “critical” to “serious,” the Baltimore Sun reported.
Services for Ramos are taking place at Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale, Queens. Reverend Adam Durso, Executive Pastor, Christ Tabernacle said in a statement on the church’s website that Ramos was “a long-standing member of 14 years at Christ Tabernacle. When he was not working, he was highly involved in our church. He served as an usher, was part of our marriage ministry and life group ministry. He and his family are well loved throughout the congregation.”
JetBlue is offering complimentary flights for law enforcement officials traveling to the services, a spokeswoman said.
The murders of the officers have been construed as a challenge for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Police union officials have blamed de Blasio for stoking anti-police sentiment. After a grand jury chose not to indict an officer for the killing of Eric Garner on Staten Island, de Blasio said in a speech that the issue was personal for him because of his biracial son, Dante.
“Because of a history still that hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we’ve had to literally train him as families have all over this city for decades in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him,” de Blasio said on December 3.
After Ramos and Liu were killed, Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said, “The blood on the hands starts at City Hall in the office of the mayor.” Some policemen and firefighters subsequently turned their backs on the mayor.
De Blasio has tried to chart a middle course, with a controversial exhortation to protesters who have marched for weeks to take a break. “Politics and protests can be for another day,” the mayor said Monday. “Let’s see the families through the funerals.”
But numerous protest organizers told msnbc that their work was unfinished, peaceful demonstrations have continued.