NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia, who was ambushed and killed last week while sitting in a mobile command unit in the Bronx, was posthumously promoted to detective first-grade Tuesday as thousands remembered her as a hero who loved life.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the somber sound of a life lost echoed along the Grand Concourse as an impressive sea of blue brought the normally busy thoroughfare to a standstill.
Law enforcement from the city, state and across the globe stood shoulder to shoulder, giving a final salute to the 12-year veteran officer Familia outside the World Changers Church on the Grand Concourse.
Her 20-year-old daughter, Genesis, and 12-year-old twins, Peter and Delilah, were all dressed in white as they were presented with the American flag. They understood why she took on such a dangerous job.
“When I was a little kid, I was just so proud and so excited my mom was a cop,” said daughter Genesis Villella. “I still am so proud of her.”
“She loved us,” said son Peter Vega. “She wanted to sacrifice for us, so she did it.”
“But I know when she went to work that night, when she sat in that truck, that she had me and my siblings in her heart,” added Genesis, “and she had love in her heart.”
During the celebration of life at the church, Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed condolences to the family.
“We’re here to lay a hero to rest,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Officer Miosotis Familia lived life the right way.”
Sitting on the stage inside the 4,000-seat church, which is situated in the old Loews Paradise Theater, was a large photo of the smiling officer.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said Familia was “a kind and authentic woman.”
“This amazing woman; this mother; this daughter; this sister; this friend; this New York City police officer was assassinated solely because of what she represented and for the responsibility she embraced,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill became emotional while addressing Familia’s three children.
“Nothing I can say will ever bring your mom back. I’m sorry for that. But I can make you this promise — your mom didn’t die in vain. Your mom’s legacy will never fade from importance or memory. Your mom made it her mission to make your home, New York City, a safer place for everyone,” he said. “And I vow to you we will continue to find a way to move forward in her honor, because that’s what cops do.”
The police commissioner called her death “an act of hate” and said she was “assassinated solely for what she represented.”
“Where are the demonstrations for the single mom who cared for her elderly mother and three children?” he asked to a thunderous applause and standing ovation. “There is anger and sorrow, but why is there no outrage?”
De Blasio also called on residents to help protect officers.
“We’ve watched with horror these attacks on our police here in New York City and all around our country. It sickens us, and we know they cannot be tolerated, and we know they must end,” de Blasio said. “It’s not a one-way street, my friends. We must help our police in every way, just as we ask them to help us in our moment of need.”
Familia, 48, is the third female NYPD officer to be killed in the line of duty – and the first since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. She was the youngest of 10 children.
Daughter Genesis said her mother made the decision to join the force exactly 12 years ago Tuesday.
“She always said they she believed being a police officer was her calling; being a detective was her calling, and this was the job for her,” Genesis said.
Familia’s mother, siblings and loved-ones embraced in front of the church and urged mourners not to let her die in vain.
“I want her legacy to be filled with love,” said sister Mercedes Proefrock. “If you see a police officer, hug them and say thank you.”
Outside the church, about 25,000 officers from around the country and around the world filled the streets.
“When an officer has fallen in the line of duty, it’s also part of our heart no matter where you are in the world,” Seattle Police Detective Deb Pelich told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell.
“It’s important that we make sure we look out for our brothers and sisters in the NYPD and we’re here to support them,” said Australian Federal Police Commander Grant Edwards.
As NYPD helicopters flew over the final procession of officers – their badges covered with black bands – officers comforted Familia’s grieving brothers and sisters from the 46th Precinct where she served, and will never be forgotten.
“Always remember that Miosotis lived to protect all New Yorkers and her legacy protects us still,” X said.
It was early last Wednesday morning that police say Familia was attacked by 34-year-old Alexander Bonds. Police said he walked up to the mobile command unit and opened fire, shooting the officer in the head.
He then ran from scene but was shot and killed by responding officers when police said he pulled the gun on them.
Familia was born and raised in the Bronx, but was of Dominican roots. She worked her entire career as a police officer in the Bronx.
She was adored by her family, who described her as the glue that held them together. They nicknamed her “la loca,” or “crazy girl,” for her feisty spirit.
Fittingly, he parents named her after the flower miosotis – the forget-me-not.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers foundation has announced they are donating $100,000 to help support Familia’s family and are seeking additional donations to help care for them. To make a donation, click here.