More than six dozen Philadelphia Police officers took a solemn trip to New York Sunday to stand side-by-side with forces from around the country as they mourn NYPD Ofc. Wenjian Liu.
"Regardless of what police department you represent," said Philadelphia Police Ofc. Jason Sommerville, "we are all one fraternity of brothers and sisters in blue."
Sommerville made the same difficult journey to New York on Dec. 28 to attend the funeral of NYPD Ofc. Rafael Ramos, who was killed, along with Liu, when Ismaaiyl Brinsley ambushed them as a they sat in a patrol car on a Brooklyn street.
"It was very surreal," Sommerville said, describing the services for Ramos.
"Every single officer in attendance for Ofc. Ramos' funeral," he continued, "in the back of their minds, I'm sure they were thinking, this could be them."
Thousands stood in the frigid rain Saturday outside the wake for 32-year-old Liu, a newlywed who had dreamed of becoming a police officer since high school.
"He was looking forward to having his own family," Liu's relatives said in a written statement after his death. "Wenjian was proud to be a New York City officer."
The same turnout occurred Sunday for his funeral, which began with Buddhist monks leading a Chinese ceremony. A traditional police ceremony followed.
About 80 officers departed the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 along Caroline Road in Northeast Philly around 6 a.m.
Both Liu and 40-year-old Ramos were posthumously promoted to detective. New York also plans to honor them by renaming streets near their homes.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio attended the Sunday services. He drew salutes from some officers as he arrived at the Wake Saturday, a stark change from their behavior at Ramos' funeral where many turned their backs on their city's leader.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton urged his department to act respectfully towards de Blasio at Liu's funeral.
"A hero's funeral is about grieving, not grievance," he said. "I issue no mandates, and I make no threats of discipline, but I remind you that when you don the uniform of this department, you are bound by the tradition, honor and decency that go with it."
However, during de Blasio's remarks at the funeral, some officers again turned their backs. Before the ceremony, retired NYPD officer John Mangan stood across the street from the funeral home with a sign that read: "God Bless the NYPD. Dump de Blasio."
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said after the display of disdain Sunday that officers "have a right to have our opinion heard, like everyone else that protests out in the city" and noted that officers' "organic gesture" was outside the service. The mayor got a respectful reception among police officials inside.
The NYPD declined to comment, and de Blasio spokesman Phil Walzak said the mayor was focused on honoring the fallen officers.
The two officers' deaths escalated the already raised emotions of those participating in the tense national debate over police-involved deaths of unarmed black men.
Brinsley, who committed suicide shortly after the fatal shooting on Dec. 20, referenced both Michael Brown and Eric Garner in online posts ahead of the attack.