WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES FEBRUARY 10, 2022 7
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Borough president holds candlelight
vigil in memory of fallen police offi cers
BY GABRIELE HOLTERMANN
Queens Borough President Donovan
Richards Jr., NYPD offi cials
and community leaders from
across Queens gathered for a candlelight
vigil in memory of fallen NYPD
Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert
Mora on Wednesday, Feb. 2.
Offi cer Rivera, 22, and Offi cer Mora,
27, were ambushed and killed in a hail
of gunfi re while responding to a domestic
disturbance call in Harlem on
Friday, Jan. 21. Rivera died the same
night shortly aft er the shooting, and
Mora was on life support until Jan. 25
to recover his organs for transplant.
The wakes and funerals for offi cers
Rivera and Mora were held at St. Patrick’s
Cathedral in Manhattan on Jan.
28 and Feb. 2, respectively, as thousands
of police offi cers lined Fift h
Avenue to bid their fi nal farewell.
Both officers were posthumously
promoted to Detective First-Grade
by NYPD Commissioner Keechant
The vigil also recognized New York
City’s first responders and NYPD
Offi cer Sumit Sulan, a Queens resident,
who responded to the domestic
violence call with his brothers in blue.
Offi cer Sulan shot and killed the suspected
gunman, 47-year-old Lashawn
McNeil, possibly preventing further
loss of life.
Richards opened the vigil, thanking
Reverend Newton, Rabbi Mendelson
and Imam Safraz Bacchus for leading
those assembled in prayer, followed by
a moment of silence.
Richards shared that he had been to
his share of funerals for police offi cers
and how devastating it was to see the
pain and agony in the faces and eyes
of family members and NYPD offi cers,
knowing that it could have easily been
them in the casket.
“But these two funerals hit diff erent,”
Richards said. “They struck a diff erent
chord with me — not only as an elected
offi cial but also as a Black man living
in southeast Queens.”
He recalled that Jason Rivera and
Wilbert Mora were young, bright men
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for fallen offi cers Jason Rivera and
Wilbert Mora, and recognized Queens resident Offi cer Sumit Sulan who also responded to the incident.
Photo courtesy of Chris Barca/Offi ce of the Queens Borough President
of color who dedicated their careers
to a more inclusive, community-fi rst
style of policing.
“They were men who came of age
in a post-Eric Garner New York and
a post-Ferguson America — a period
where policing become polarizing,”
Richards pointed out. “They came
up in a time where it can feel like you
have to choose whether Black lives or
blue lives matter most. But Detectives
Rivera and Mora didn’t see things that
Mora and Rivera wanted to make a
diff erence and change the relationship
between police and their communities
for the better. While attending the police
academy in 2020, Detective Rivera
wrote a letter titled, “Why I Became a
Police Offi cer.”
In that letter, he spoke of watching
his brother stopped and frisked. He
shared how deeply that troubled
him. But he also spoke of how much
that inspired him to be the change he
wanted to see.
“This was when I realized that I
wanted to be part of the men in blue,
to better the relationship between the
community and the police,” Rivera
“Think about the courage it took
Detective Rivera to write those words,”
Richards said. “He could have turned
his anger inward at himself or outward
at the world. But he didn’t.”
Richards pointed out that when Detectives
Rivera and Mora and NYPD
Offi cer Sulan answered the call on Jan.
21, they were doing exactly that, working
in a community of color to improve
trust and save lives.
“It’s a damn shame they aren’t alive
today,” Richards said. “We’ve been
robbed of two of New York City’s
Richards reminded NYPD Offi
cer Sulan that his home borough of
Queens was standing behind him to lift
him up, and promised that he and his
family would always have the support
of his extended Queens family.
He stressed the importance of shutting
down the “Iron Pipeline,” a route
along the I95 corridor where guns
from states with lax gun laws are
brought to New York state.
“There are no gun manufacturers
on 135th Street in Harlem, in southeast
Queens, or anywhere else in this city,”
Richards said. “But we’re still losing
neighbors, and now police offi cers, to
this scourge at an unacceptable rate.”
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