Thousands of police officers from across the nation packed a church and spilled onto streets today to honor Officer Rafael Ramos as a devoted family man, aspiring chaplain and hero, though an air of unrest surrounding his ambush shooting was not completely pushed aside. Although mourners inside the New York church applauded politely as Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke, hundreds of officers outside turned their backs on him in a show of disrespect for what they see as his support for anti-police protesters. De Blasio has been harshly criticized by New York Police Department union officials as a contributor to a climate of mistrust that contributed to the killings of Ramos and his partner, Wenjian Liu.
Sgt. Myron Joseph of the New Rochelle Police Department said he and fellow officers turned their backs spontaneously to "support our brothers in the NYPD." At a hospital after the officers' slayings, the police union's president, Patrick Lynch, and others turned their backs on de Blasio; Lynch said the mayor had "blood on his hands." Today, police commissioner Bill Bratton said he is posthumously making Ramos an honorary police chaplain; he's also promoting both Ramos and Liu to the detective rank, CNN reports. Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised police for their professionalism at recent rallies over police conduct when protesters insulted them, and Joe Biden spoke passionately about the effects of the officers' deaths. "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. (Read more Rafael Ramos stories.)