Thousands bid farewell to murdered New York officer

Police officers gather for the funeral of officer Brian Moore at St James Roman Catholic Church May 8, 2015 in Seaford, New York. Police lined the streets of a Long Island town where thousands attended the funeral Friday of a New York officer alleged
Police officers gather for the funeral of officer Brian Moore at St James Roman Catholic Church May 8, 2015 in Seaford, New York. Police lined the streets of a Long Island town where thousands attended the funeral Friday of a New York officer allegedly shot dead by a former convict. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Police lined the streets of a Long Island town where thousands attended the funeral Friday of a New York officer allegedly shot dead by a former convict.

Brian Moore, 25, was the third New York officer killed in America’s biggest city in five months, against a backdrop of nationwide protests and racial tensions over police killings of unarmed black suspects.

Moore, who was in plain clothes, was shot in the head while inside his unmarked car with another police officer in the borough of Queens last Saturday. He died in hospital two days later.

Friends, family and fellow officers from across the United States and even Canada attended the televised Catholic mass at St James Church in the town of Seaford, 64km east of Manhattan.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who on Thursday unveiled a new budget that snubbed requests from the police department to add more officers to the force, also attended the service, as did police commissioner Bill Bratton.

“Brian, like so many of his brother and sister officers, ran always into the trouble not away from it,” preached New York police chaplain Monsignor Robert Romano.

“He is a hero along with his partner Eric and the millions of past, present, future men and women who have and will don the blue uniform and shield of the NYPD.”

Police departments across the United States have faced heightened criticism over their tactics and treatment of black suspects, following the death of a number of unarmed black men at the hands of officers.

The US Department of Justice on Friday opened an investigation into whether police in the city of Baltimore engaged in systematic misconduct and excessive force, following the eruption of violent riots.

Six police officers have been charged in connection with the arrest and death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who suffered a serious spinal injury while in the back of a police van last month and died a week later.

Demetrius Blackwell, 35, an ex-convict and a career criminal, was arrested shortly after the shooting and faces murder charges over Moore’s death.

He allegedly opened fire on the officers as they tried to follow him.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said Thursday it was “dangerous and shortsighted” not to hire more police officers in an effort to control neighborhood shootings.

There are currently 35,000 police officers in New York. The city has a population of more than eight million.

On December 20, New York officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, were shot dead as they sat in their patrol car by a black gunman claiming to be avenging the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police.