Remembering NYPD Officer Jason Rivera: Wake Held For 22-Year-Old Killed In Line Of Duty In Harlem

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Jason Rivera

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thousands on Thursday got a chance to say a final goodbye to fallen NYPD Officer Jason Rivera.

A wake took place for the 22-year-old hero, who was killed in Harlem late last week after responding to a call.

As CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reported, the sadness felt by so many each and every day hasn’t gotten any easier. Family, friends, fellow officers and members of the public made their way inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral to pay their respects, filled with sadness.

The emotions are hard to put into words. There’s anger, frustration, and pain. The only thing that has helped is knowing they’re not alone.

From the funeral home in Inwood, Rivera’s casket was surrounded by fellow officers as it was led to St. Patrick’s. The somber procession was a reminder of the hurt.

At the church, bagpipes played as Rivera’s body was brought in. Family members made their way inside. That alone wasn’t that easy as they were helped up by the men and women in uniform who came out in numbers. Across the street, strangers watched.

“It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart,” said Susan Budgell of Midwood. “Without them, where would we be? Where would we be? These young officers, not even making a lot of money, to risk their lives and their families. They’re so young. They didn’t even … they’re children … they’re kids.”

Along Fifth Avenue, tourists have stopped to pay tribute. One man named Pierre is an officer in the Netherlands.

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New York City is mourning the second officer to lose his life after being ambushed Friday in Harlem. (CBS2)

“It tells me that the people are standing behind the police,” he said.

One reason this senseless tragedy has touched so many, who are reflecting on just how young the officers were.

“I could be his grandmother,” said Jan Rosenberg of Westchester. “Lives cut too short. And we need to do something about all the guns.”

“I felt so bad, it’s so sad. So young, so young, and he just started,” a Queens woman said. “I just wanted to show my support for the police department.”

“He’s one of our own and I believe he was trying to do the right thing for this community,” said Denise Keehan-Smith of Woodside, Queens.

Michael Muldrow knows that sacrifice all too well. He is a police chief in Pennsylvania who said leaving New York City without paying his respects was not an option.

“It’s their families, to be responsible to make that call, for letting his wife, their mothers, their fathers, their kids know they’re not coming home. They lost their life just trying to do the right thing for the right reason, and it’s just hard,” Muldrow told CBS2’s Cory James.

Some political leaders have promised to tackle the issue of gun violence.

The wake will continue through 8 p.m., followed by the funeral Friday.

Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell will be among those delivering eulogies at the funeral.

Rivera’s partner, Officer Wilbert Mora, will be laid to rest next week.

Rivera joined the police academy in November 2020, in his words, to better the relationship between police and community.

He leaves behind a widow, his high school sweetheart, who wrote on social media, “My soulmate, best friend and lover from now until the end of time.”

You can watch the funeral live on our streaming service CBS News New York or on WLNY TV 10-55.

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