National News

Slain NYPD Officer Jason Rivera Receives Final Salute at St. Patrick’s

Grieving widow: ‘Your death won’t be in vain’

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The heartbreaking words of a grieving widow provided a powerful moment at the St. Patrick’s Cathedral funeral on Friday for slain NYPD Det. Jason Rivera, who was lauded as a wonderful husband, brother, and cop.

“I would say good morning to you all. But in fact, it’s the worst morning ever,” Dominique Luzuriaga said through tears as she delivered a eulogy for her husband of almost four months in front of thousands of mourners, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, and Police Commission Keechant Sewell.

[PHOTOS: Funeral Mass for Officer Jason Rivera]

The couple, who were childhood sweethearts, married on Oct. 9 and had plans to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral this year, his widow revealed.

The body of Officer Jason Rivera is carried down the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. (Photo: Jeff Bruno)

“You have the whole nation on gridlock and although you won’t be here anymore, I want you to live through me,” she said, speaking directly to her late husband.

The widow expressed anger over the fact that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has pledged to not prosecute certain crimes. 

“The 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 D.A.,” she said, expressing a fear that her husband had about the growing lawlessness in the city.

Although district attorneys do not make laws, they do have discretion over which ones they prosecute.

“But I promise, we promise, that your death won’t be in vain,” she added. “I love you to the end of time.”

Thousands of members of the NYPD packed the streets in Midtown Manhattan. (Photo: Jeff Bruno)

Thousands of officers from the NYPD, and around the country, lined the street outside St. Patrick’s and for more than 10 blocks along 5th Avenue to pay their respects. They all saluted Rivera in unison as his casket was carried out of the cathedral.

Sewell announced at the funeral that she had promoted officer Rivera to detective first grade. “His loss is extremely difficult for us all to bear,” she said. “He was everything the city and the NYPD needed him to be.”

Rivera, 22, and his partner, officer Wilbert Mora, 27, were shot while answering a 911 call of a domestic violence incident in Harlem on Jan. 21. Rivera died that same night. Mora died four days later. His funeral was scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 2, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The suspect, Lashawn McNeil, 47, who was shot by officer Sumit Sulan as he tried to flee the apartment, died on Jan. 24.

Adams and Sewell were among those who delivered eulogies, along with Father Robert Abbatiello, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Yonkers, NYPD Inspector Amir Yakatally, commanding officer of the 32nd Precinct, where Rivera worked, and Jeffrey Rivera, the detective’s older brother.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan was the main celebrant of the funeral Mass, which was conducted in Spanish and English.

The Diocese of Brooklyn was represented by Bishop Robert Brennan, who was a co-celebrant, and NYPD chaplains Msgr. Robert Romano, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, and Msgr. David Cassato, pastor of St. Athanasius Church. 

Msgr. Romano introduced the eulogists, who painted a portrait of Rivera as a dedicated and fun-loving husband, son, brother, and police officer. He joined the NYPD in 2020 to work to improve police-community relations.

Yakatally said Rivera was so anxious his first day on the job at the precinct that he double-parked his car outside the station house, bringing traffic to a standstill, and causing the desk sergeant to scramble to figure out whose car it was.

“But even so, supervisors in the precinct were immediately paying attention to him and predicting he would do well, so long as he respected the parking rules,” Yakatally said.

Jeffrey Rivera recalled that his brother felt a calling to become a cop. 

“I can’t put it into words. How shattered my family is,” he said. “No matter how broken we are, we get strength from knowing that God put a burning desire in my brother’s heart and He called him to do something. And we are so proud of him for saying yes.”