July 11, 2017
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much, Reverend Williams-Harris. And everyone please join me in thanking these wonderful singers and musicians and everyone at World Changers Church for hosting this celebration of life.
Give them all a round of applause, please.
Our hearts are broken. But at the same time, we’re here to appreciate. We’re here to lay a hero to rest. But we have to remember the many ways she was a hero – in her service to this city, in her love for her family, and all she did for everyone she came across in life.
Officer Miosotis Familia lived life the right way. We mourn together. We’re here to support each other, we’re here to support her family. But most especially, we’re here to honor her and all she stood for, all she believed in, all she did.
We grieve with this extraordinary family. And they are extraordinary. I’ve had the honor of spending time with this beautiful, warm, large family – here for each other, so clearly, so deeply.
I want to give a special appreciation to Miosotis’s mother, Adriana.
Adriana, you gave your daughter so much strength. And you gave her to all of us. She was a gift to the world. Muchísimas gracias, Adriana.
We’re here to grieve with and support Miosotis’s nine big brothers and sisters – extraordinary family. Each one of them who taught her to be the woman she was. And we are here especially for her three children, who she loved more than anything in the world. Genesis, and Peter, and Delilah, you were her light in so many ways and you continue to be. Miosotis loved her family so deeply, and they loved her back with every fiber of their being.
She had another family she loved deeply – the family of the NYPD, and particularly her brothers and sisters of the 4-6 Precinct, an extraordinary place.
The time I spent at the 4-6 Precinct reminded me that some place you work can also be where you build another family – brothers and sisters there for each other. And it’s a precinct people speak of with a glow in their hearts. So we’re with all of you too.
I want to take us back for a moment – that night of July 4th. And we say the words July 4th, and we think of celebration. It’s a time when we celebrate the wonder of this country – this country where a smart and motivated young woman, like Miosotis Familia, could become everything she dreamed of. She was strong, but kind, resourceful and energetic. She embodied the American Dream – a child of immigrants, the first in her family to go to college – a beautiful New York City story. A striver, she always was working to better herself and her family. And she had a goal – she wanted with all her heart to be a New York City police officer. She knew nothing would stop her, and nothing did. And she put on that uniform with such pride. She died the night – she died the night her nation was born. And she died a patriot, defending all of us. Back in 1776, it was farmers and craftsmen who put on a uniform to fight for freedom. Centuries later, in that same spirit, it was Miosotis Familia, who put on a uniform to fight so others could live in freedom and peace. She loved this city and she loved this country because she understood its magic. She saw what was possible – what it meant for herself and her children. She lived for them, but she died for all of us.
Now let’s – let’s be clear. And it isn’t easy to say this because it’s so painful. She was killed solely because she worn a uniform. She was murdered while acting as an agent of peace. And we’ve watched with horror these attacks on our police, here in this city and all around our country. But in fact, brothers and sisters, hermanos y hermanas, we must end it.
We – everyone one of us – we the civilians, we must be the guardians of those who protect us. It’s not a one-way street, my friends. We must help our police in every way just as we ask them to help us in our moment of need. When something goes wrong in our life, we expect them to be there. They have the right to the same expectation. So I say to all of us, if someone threatens a police officer anywhere, anytime – in person or online – we need to alert the police to that threat. If any officer is in danger, we need to help them.
And I want to tell you a story that I always come back to because it speaks to the ability of the people to be there for our brothers and sisters in blue. It was a few years ago in Brooklyn. Two rookie officers saw a man getting on a bus without paying his fare. They walked up. They encountered the man. And suddenly this man pulled out a weapon and fired on the officers. One of the officers went down. His partner immediately went to his aid. The perpetrator ran. What happened next speaks to the society we must build together. There were two off duty EMTs who saw this and ran immediately to the aid of the officer. There were community members who ran to the aid of the officer. And then as the perpetrator fled, other community members ran after him in pursuit. More officers arrived, and neighborhood residents pointed the way to where the perpetrator was hiding, so that the officers could arrest him, take away his gun, and take him off the street. Thank God that rookie officer recovered from his wounds.
And in that one moment, we saw community and police as one. And that is what we need more of. We need to understand the police are us. They represent all of us. We have an obligation to provide them with physical protection. We will do that. We will give all the equipment that they need, but they need more than equipment. They need us. They need us to be their eyes and ears. They need our solidarity and support because they are of our communities, by our communities, and for our communities, and no one epitomized that more than Miosotis Familia who lived so near where she served, who was there out of love for her neighbors.
You know, her name – it’s not a name we see a lot, but it comes from a flower. Miosotis is derived from a flower known as the Forget-Me-Not, and it’s a reminder to us to never forget her. We know – we know her spirit will live on in so many ways. In the streets that she made safer, in the lives she protected, most deeply in the family that she nurtured.
I want to conclude by speaking to these three wonderful young people. To Genesis, and Peter, and Delilah – I have to tell you, you could not be more special. You could not be more of an example of everything good about your mother. Peter, you – that horrible night you asked Commissioner O’Neill what do you do now, a young man trying to understand a tragedy. Well, as I’ve talked to you I’ve learned that the answer is already clear because your mother gave you all the tools, all the strength, all the intelligence, all the wisdom. Not a lot of 12-year-olds who want to be accountants. I kind of admire that. But you love math and science, and you have a wisdom about you that will serve you well. And Delilah, you’re already on your way. You’re already writing things and seeing them published in the school paper, and you love the spoken word and the written word, and you have big dreams. You already know the high school you want to go to and the college you want to go to, and they are wonderful places worthy of you. And you’re on your way too. And Genesis, you are now the rock for this family. I know you know it. And I know you accept that mantle of leadership even though it isn’t easy for a 20-year-old woman. It’s been thrust upon you way too early, but you’re so full of life and energy just like your mom was and that love of learning she gave you, it sent you all the way to England in pursuit of – as you said – you wanted to learn how to speak English from the people who came up with the idea. You have her passion. You have her intelligence. She gave you everything you need. You’re on your way, too, and you will always have each other.
My friends, Police Officer Miosotis Familia did not die in vain. She made sure to teach the next generation well, and she showed all of us the right way. Now it is up to us to live it.
Thank you and God bless you all.
Reverend Barbara Williams-Harris: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. We will now hear from the Honorable James P. O’Neill, Police Commissioner of the City of New York.
Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill: Good morning, everybody. Barbara, I’m not sure if I’m ready to celebrate yet. I have to work on it.
Members of the NYPD Chaplain’s Unit, Pastor Davidson, and his staff and congregation at World Changers Church – I love the name – Mayor de Blasio, Adriana, Genny, Peter, Delilah, Inspector Phil Rivera, and all the men and women of the 4-6 Precinct in the Bronx; law enforcement officers from all across the nation and the world, many who have travelled great distances to support us in this time of incredible sorrow; and all other friends and family gathered here this morning – on behalf of the entire New York City Police Department, I extend our most profound condolences.
Police Officer Miosotis Familia was a kind and authentic women. One of ten children raised in Washington Heights before she and her family moved together to the Bronx, she was serious but sharp-witted and though she was the youngest her siblings say she was never spoiled.
Miosotis was the glue that held her large family together. She would mediate any dispute especially among her six, feisty sisters. Known as a lovable goof, the playfully called her La Loca, or Crazy Girl. And later as a mother she would teach her own children life lessons like being kind to strangers, blessing others with a smile, and respecting those less fortunate.
I’m told that Valentine’s Day was her favorite holiday. She would really go overboard with the hearts and the decorations in their Kingsbridge apartment just so their kids could see all the love that was theirs.
Like every New Yorker, Miosotis just wanted to do her job, work hard, live without fear, improve her life in [inaudible] her 86-year-old mother, her two daughters, and her son. But she also wanted to do something else. She wanted to improve the lives of other families as well when she made that decision 12 years ago to become an NYPD cop, a Bronx cop.
She epitomized why many people choose to become police officers. Genny, Peter, Delilah – I can talk forever about the great things, the fantastic things that police officers do every single day for millions of people, and nothing I can say will bring your mom back. I’m sorry for that.
But I can make you this promise, your mom didn’t die in vain. Your mom’s legacy will never fade from importance in memory. Your mom made it her mission to make your home, New York City, a better and safer place for everyone. And I vow to you we will continue to find our way forward in her honor because that’s what cops do.
Cops are regular people who believe in the possibility of making this a safer world. It’s why we do what we do. It’s why we run toward when others run away. Your mom believed in the possibility of being part of something larger than herself.
She accepted the vast responsibility that came with her decision knowing that would be challenging, recognizing that someone has to do this job, and believing she was willing and able to fill that role – and she was right.
Miosotis wanted other people to know her, work with her, and to help her make this a better city for all of us. Everything our government stands for – freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from [inaudible], freedom from fear – everything starts with public safety. Miosotis knew this and she wanted all of us to play our part.
That is why violence against the police and what we represent is a dishonor to civilized society. We should be outraged that any single person had so little regard for your right to public safety.
On a night our nation celebrated its independence, the coward who committed this atrocity did not walk down the street after midnight and shoot just anybody. He shot a cop. Mental illness and medication may have played a part, I don’t know. What is certain, however, is that he hated the police. He saw us as the bad guys because countless times he heard it in conversation, saw it on television, read it in the newspapers – combine that toxic blend with his special brand of evil, and you get this funeral.
Hate has consequences. When we demonize a whole group of people, whether that group is defined by race, by religion, or by occupation, this is the result.
I don’t know how else to say it. This was an act of hate in this case against police officers, the very people who stepped forward and made a promise to protect you day and night.
This amazing woman, this mother, this daughter, this sister, this friend, this New York City police officer was assassinated solely because of what she represented and for the responsibility she embraced.
All her killer could see was a uniform, even though Miosotis was so much more. He blamed the police for his own terrible choices in life and for the way he [inaudible] after our society agreed he should go away to prison for a while.
As a city and as a country, I don’t believe we are in the same place we were at the end of 2014 when Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were assassinated under similar circumstances in Brooklyn. We are on firmer ground now with police and communities working more effectively together. But in mid-2017 there unquestionably is a creeping apathy among the public about the work and role of its dedicated police officers.
I think of it this way – you don't really notice the lights are on until they go out. If we do wrong, we are vilified. If we do right, we are ignored.
There is little attention paid to positive changes in policing in general and, in this police department in particular, no matter how effective they may be. But the manner in which Miosotis was killed should remind everybody that the civility of our society balances on a knife’s edge and the 36,000 uniformed members of the NYPD are just regular people who made a selfless decision to help maintain that balance.
There is nothing more human than a 48-year-old mother of three living in the Bronx who decided to swear an oath, put on a uniform, and live a life with meaning. Fighting crime and keeping people safe is not a responsibility that the police take lightly and neither should the public.
While crime continues to go down year after year, that provides little comfort when the fabric our society, the blanket of public safety we provide, is torn by a senseless direct assault on one of our protectors.
Here are the numbers we don’t talk about nearly enough. Since our start in 1845 more than 840 New York City police officers have died in the line of duty. Miosotis is our seventh cop to be shot and killed in just the last five years and she’s our third female officer ever to be murdered on the job.
Across our nation, 135 police officers were killed in the line of duty last year, the sharpest spike in the last five years. And just yesterday, New York State Trooper Joel Davis was killed in the line of duty while responding to a radio run of a domestic dispute in upstate New York.
Each of these murdered officers has one thing in common – they lost their lives while protecting the lives of others. Some people say, well, that’s what cops sign up for, right, that’s their job.
Let me tell you something, regular people sign up to be cops. They sign up for this job of protecting strangers knowing there are inherent risks.
But not one us ever agreed to be murdered in an active indefensible hate. Not one of us signed up to never return to our family or loved ones. So where were the demonstrations for the single mom, who cared for her elderly mother and her own three children?
There is anger and sorrow, but why is there no outrage? Because, Miosotis was wearing a uniform? Because it was her job? I simply do not accept that. Miosotis was targeted, ambushed and assassinated. She wasn’t given a chance to defend herself. That should matter to every single person her can hear my voice in New York City and beyond.
We know there is evil in this world, that’s why we need the police. But as New Yorkers we can decide that people like Miosotis’s killer will ultimately fail. He will not drive us apart. We can decide to come together and make our city reflect the good inside all of us.
The hopes and simple dreams we share. I am asking the public to make a commitment to support your police, to work with us. Commit to watching the backs of those you call when you’re scared, those you call when you’re in trouble. NYPD cops answer about 4.5 million radio runs a year and are flagged down countless other times. And for good or bad, only a tiny handful of our actions make the news, that tiny handful, some when things go right, others when things go wrong. Because, that’s what sells newspapers, those are the ones that define us. And the millions, literally millions of actions go unnoticed.
But we don’t turn away from criticism. Because we know it comes hand-in-hand with the possibly of making the safest big city in America even safer. We know you need us, and we need you. We want all our neighborhoods to be safer places for our children, for our elderly, for ourselves. But without peace and safety we have nothing. It’s a shared responsibly, you must participate, you must not retreat.
It seems that we put all our societal failures in our police to solve. If there is not enough drug addiction funding, many say it’s the police who should change their tactics. If there is not enough money for mental health, many say it’s the cops who need to alter what they’re doing out in the streets. If our society hasn’t adequately invested in schools, the cops need to figure that out. We tell our police, you’re the counselor, you’re the parent, you’re the social worker, you’re the referee. But policing was never intended to solve all of those problems. It’s our obligation to continually drive down crime and keep people safe. That’s what Miosotis vowed to do, and that’s the work we vowed to continue in her stead.
But we are left with other memories, moments shared, lives touched, and friendships forged. There is no making sense in what is truly senseless. There is no explaining the unexplainable. Words do not do it justice, we cannot fix the hurt. We have to put the pins, the power, in the – we have to put that in the hands of a higher power, and the higher power I’m talking about is you. We need the public to take a more active role in our city’s safety. I am asking you to connect with your police. Listen to my words, your police, we are yours, we’re here to help.
We’re here to make things better, but we need your assistance. We need it now more than ever. Because no one knows what’s going on in a street or a block better than those who live and work there every day. That’s how your neighborhoods will keep getting better, and that’s how we’re going to continue to keep driving crime down, and keep everybody safe. And that’s how we will find our way forward together, that’s Miosotis’s legacy.
The pain we feel today will not soon pass. But we know she did not die in vain. Our anger can be transformed into effective change; our sorrow can make us a better society. We may not ever match the sacrifice made by Miosotis but surely we can try to match her sense of service. If we cannot match her courage, we can strive to match her devotion. In the last few days the 4-6 precinct, Police Plaza, all across New York we’ve received many, many messages of hope and support. They tell us that people around the nation and around the world love the police very much, and mourn with us, they tell us they need us, and they are proud of us. I too couldn’t be more proud of our cops. To the men and women of the NYPD –
To the men and women of the NYPD who bravely put on that uniform every day and they do, it takes courage. And to all those who have come before us, thank you for your dedication, your leadership, and your powerful example. And I also couldn’t be more proud of and thankful for Miosotis, whom I promote today to Detective First Grade.
Please rise and applaud.
To Genny, Peter, and Delilah, here we are today literally surrounded by a sea of blue as far as the eye can see outside this building, and know this – our family will always be with yours. We don’t ever forget, we will always be here for you in this city. And to all the members of the NYPD, do not ever forget why you chose to become a police officer. Be proud of who you are and what you do. Always remember that Miosotis lived to protect all New Yorkers and her legacy protects us still. We pray that she now finds rest, and her beloved family finds solace and peace. And the strength to live the lives their mother fought to give them.
God bless Miosotis, God bless her family, God bless every member of the New York City Police Department who will forever carry on her most important work. Thank you.