Biden: NY officers' deaths touched soul of nation

2014-12-27 18:50
Sign posted before the funeral. (AP)

Sign posted before the funeral. (AP)

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New York - Vice President Joe Biden told thousands of people gathered on Saturday for the funeral of a New York police officer killed along with his partner in an ambush shooting, that their deaths "touched the soul of an entire nation".

Biden addressed hundreds of police officers, family and friends of Officer Rafael Ramos inside the Christ Tabernacle Church in the borough of Queens and thousands more outside who came from across the US.

Officers watching the funeral service on giant screens joined those inside in applauding when Biden called the New York police department the finest in the world.

"When an assassin's bullet targeted two officers, it targeted this city and it touched the soul of an entire nation," the vice president said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the 20 December daylight shootings of the officers as they sat in their cruiser on a Brooklyn street was "an attack on all of us".

The attack shook the city and put a halt to large-scale local protests criticising police over a series of high-profile deaths of unarmed black men.

Funeral plans for Ramos' partner, Officer Wenjian Liu, have yet to be announced.

When the Ramos family arrived, the eldest son - wearing his father's New York police department jacket - was hugged by a police officer.

"What happened to my father was a tragedy," Ramos' son, Justin, said in a tearful eulogy viewed by hundreds of officers in the street who watched on giant television screens outside the crowded church. "But his death will not be in vain."

After the death of the officers on a street in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant section, the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley killed himself. Police said he was troubled and had shot and wounded an ex-girlfriend in Baltimore earlier that day.

In online posts shortly before the attack, Brinsley referenced the killings of two unarmed black men - Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in the New York borough of Staten Island - by white police officers.

Police union officials have said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio contributed to a climate of mistrust toward police amid protests over the deaths of Brown and Garner.

Ramos and Liu were the first officers to die in the line of duty in New York since 2011.

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