Thousands of NYPD officers and well-wishers lined Fifth Avenue on Friday morning, gathered for the memorial service at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the procession that followed.
The mourners had assembled to pay their respects for the fallen 22-year-old officer who, along with his partner Wilbert Mora, was fatally shot in Harlem last week responding to a call about a domestic disturbance.
The suspect, 47-year-old Lashawn McNeil, died days later from wounds sustained during the shootout.
Widow of Jason Rivera Speaks Out
Inside the church, Luzuriaga spoke through tears as she laid to rest the man she married only three months earlier.
“Even when we said ‘I do’, we couldn’t believe we said it. October ninth was the happiest day of our lives,” the grieving widow said.
“I know I drove you crazy saying I love you so many times that you would stop replying I love you more. But you made me feel alive. You make me feel alive.”
Luzuriaga went on to describe the gut-wrenching moment she learned her husband and best friend had been killed in the line of duty. She had just learned that two officers had been shot during a domestic call in Harlem.
“I immediately texted you and asked you, ‘are you okay? Please tell me you’re okay. I know that you’re mad right now but just text me, you’re okay, at least tell me you’re busy.’ I get no response,” she said.
Luzuriaga had explained that the pair were arguing over something trivial the last time they spoke, but she said she had the distinct feeling that her husband wasn’t ignoring her — “something wasn’t right.”
“Then I get a call asking if I’m Jason’s wife, and then I had to rush to the hospital,” the widow continued. “I couldn’t believe you left me. Seeing you in a hospital bed wrapped up in sheets, not hearing you when I was talking to you broke me.”
“I said to you, wake up baby, I’m here,” Luzuriaga said. “The little bit of hope I had that you would come back to life just to say goodbye or say I love you one more time has left. I was lost. I’m still lost.”
“Today I’m still in this nightmare that I wish I never had.”
Dominique Luzuriaga Slams DA
Luzuriaga also took aim at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who was present at Saint Peter’s for the Friday morning service.
Since Bragg took office at the beginning of the month, he’s reportedly instructed prosecutors not to charge specific crimes, like resisting arrest, and has called for certain nonviolent felony charges to be automatically dropped to misdemeanors.
The stated goal of the policies is to “free up prosecutorial resources to focus on violent crime,” the DA has said.
Still, the new guidelines have drawn criticism from city police organizations and “tough-on-crime” politicians, who claim Bragg is making the city more dangerous.
At her husband’s funeral on Friday, Luzuriaga voiced those concerns to Bragg directly, though it doesn’t appear she knew he was in attendance.
“This system continues to fail us. We are not safe anymore, not even the members of the service. I know you were tired of these laws, especially the ones from the new DA,” she said, speaking to her slain husband. “I hope he’s watching you speak through me right now.”
“I’m sure all of our blue family is tired too. But I promise, we promise, that your death won’t be in vain,” Luzuriaga added to a standing ovation from the crowd.
Despite this, Lashawn McNeil, the suspect who police believe killed Rivera and Mora in Harlem last week, does not appear to have benefited from any of DA Bragg’s new policies.
Though McNeil had a long criminal record and was on probation at the time of the shooting, he does not appear to have been arrested or charged with any crime in New York City under Bragg’s tenure before the deadly incident on Jan. 18.