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Thousands gather for fallen NYPD officer's funeral

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Posted at 11:14 AM, Dec 27, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-27 11:14:30-05

Thousands of police officers from across the nation gathered for the funeral of NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos, who was shot and killed along with fellow Officer Wenjian Liu.

Officers stretched far outside the Christ Tabernacle church in Queens to remember Ramos, who was shot on December 20. 

The two were killed by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who posted inflammatory remarks against police officers and referenced black men Michael Brown and Eric Garner, who both died in separate incidents with white police officers. Brinsley killed himself after the murders. 

The murders of police officers furthered the tension between police officers and the communities they serve after questions and protests across the nation regarding the use of force by police.

Vice President Joe Biden, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were among those who addressed the audience.

De Blasio has been a focal point for anger from unions representing New York police officers, who believed the mayor should have done more to defend police officers and build trust between officers and the community. Some officers turned their backs to de Blasio when he spoke.

“New York City has lost a hero,” said de Blasio, who called Ramos a peacemaker.

Funeral arrangements for Liu have not been announced.

Ramos, 40, was a married father of two.

Biden said he did not know Ramos, but he offered words of encouragement to the family.

“I do know why they were there,” he said. “They were there to protect and defend as they always are. Sometimes fearful, always watchful.”

Biden said the city can overcome the animosity highlighted by protests.

“I believe that this great police force and this incredibly diverse city can and will show the nation how to bridge any divide,” Biden said.

Cuomo made strong statements in support of the NYPD, which investigating other threats made against officers.

“The threats against New York’s police are an insult to law-abiding citizens and they will not be tolerated,” Cuomo said. 

Both Ramos and Liu were the first two NYPD officers killed in the line of duty since 2011, according to The Associated Press.