Liu had a tradition of calling his father at the end of every shift while on the force just to let him know that he was safe and heading home. But on December 20, that call never came.
“This is the saddest day of my life,” Wei Tang Liu said through his tears at his son’s funeral. “He called me every day before he finished work to assure me he was safe and to tell me, ‘Dad, I’m coming home today, you can stop worrying now.’”
A 32-year-old police officer born in China and raised mostly in the United States, Liu had a passion for community service, fishing, and his family, including his wife of only three months, Pei Xia Chen.
“His spirit will continue to look after us,” she said. “Wenjian is my hero.
To conclude her remarks, she said to all the police officers who came to show their support, “I thank you my extended family, my family of blue.”
More than 10,000 police officers from around the U.S. and Canada were in attendance, lining 65th Street near the Ralph Aievoli & Son Funeral Home for several blocks.
Many had their transportation expenses covered by airlines including jetBlue and Sun Country. Among those to attend the funeral was television talk show host Geraldo Rivera.
“It was very, very sad in there,” he said of the mood in the funeral home just moments before the ceremony began.
Honored speakers at the ceremony included FBI Director James Comey, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“These are our most difficult days,” Comey said, adding that though he didn’t know Liu, “I know from the words [of his colleagues] that he was a man of great thoughtfulness and care.”
Comey also said that it’s been a bad year to be a cop, with 115 officers around the United States killed in the line of duty in 2014, a “shocking increase” from 2013.
During his remarks, Bratton reiterated that Liu was being posthumously promoted to the rank of Detective First Grade – the highest possible rank in Liu’s 84th Precinct.
“Officer Liu believed in possibility. He believed in the possibility of making a safer world. All cops do. It's why we do what we do,” Bratton said. “In the sphere of law enforcement, his vision is left unrealized. It is up to us to see it through.”
As a continued show of displeasure with City Hall, many cops in the crowd turned their backs on the ceremony while the mayor gave his eulogy. None of the cops directly in front of the funeral home participated in the silent protest.
Despite this slight outside in the streets, inside the mayor was undeterred in his memorial of Liu.
The mayor recalled a story he was told by one of Liu's former partners recalling a shift together early in Liu’s career. The officers were on a call for a standard “lift” – short code for giving a hand to an elderly person who has fallen and can’t get up on their own.
After assisting the man to his feet, Liu learned that he was a veteran who wanted to share his life stories with someone, so he convinced his partner to stay and listen. When it came time to leave, Liu suggested they help the old man to bed and cover him with blankets for the night.
“He was kind, more worried about other people than he was for himself,” de Blasio said. “Detective Liu lifted all of us up.”
Following the service, Liu’s body was driven past his home one last time before being laid to rest in Cypress Hills Cemetery.
To ensure that Liu’s family is taken care of, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation pledged to raise the money needed to pay off his mortgage, as well as that of his fallen partner Rafael Ramos.