Thousands Mourn Slain NYPD Officer, a Mother of 3, at Funeral - NBC 7 San Diego
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Thousands Mourn Slain NYPD Officer, a Mother of 3, at Funeral

Officer Miosotis Familia, 48, was shot in the head as she wrote in a notebook in her mobile command unit in the Bronx last week

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    Thousands of family members, friends and colleagues gathered at a Bronx church Tuesday to mourn 48-year-old NYPD officer Miosotis Familia, a mother of three and 12-year department veteran shot in the head while sitting in her mobile command unit last week. Erica Byfield reports.

    (Published Tuesday, July 11, 2017)

    Thousands of family members, friends and colleagues gathered at a Bronx church Tuesday to mourn 48-year-old NYPD officer Miosotis Familia, a mother of three and 12-year department veteran shot in the head while sitting in her mobile command unit last week.

    A sea of blue surrounded the World Changers Church in the Bronx for blocks as police officers from all around the world arrived to pay their respects to Familia, who was posthumously promoted to first-grade detective. 

    Church members handed out tissues as mourners arrived in the historic, baroque-style theater that seats 4,000. A screen flashed images of a smiling Familia with friends and family and showed images of the memorial outside the Bronx precinct where she worked.

    There was a spirit of celebration, with a stirring rendition of Amazing Grace greeting mourners as they arrived.

    The stage bore a large photo of Familia over a black draping with the NYPD insignia. One of the floral arrangements bore the message "Blue Lives Matter" with angel wings.

    Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass, the NYPD's chief chaplain, said Familia's story showed it is possible to "travel a long, long journey in an incredibly short period of her time." 

    Familia came on the job in 2005, after working as a patient care assistant at New York University Hospital, and also for the American Red Cross. She spent her entire career in the Bronx precinct where she was killed.

    She is survived by her 20-year-old daughter Genesis Villella and 12-year-old twins Delilah Vega, an aspiring journalist, and Peter Vega, a basketball lover who wants to be an accountant. Familia, the youngest of 10, also was caring for her 86-year-old mother.

    "Family was at the core of her existence," said Kass. 

    Speaking at the service, Genesis said she was always "so proud" of her mother. 

    "When I was younger, when I was a little kid, I was just so proud and so excited that my mom was a cop," she said.

    Genesis recalled the last time she saw her mother and hugged her, hours before she was killed. 

    "Before she left to go to work, she came into my doorway and she said, 'I love you, I'm going to work now,'" Genesis recalled in tears. "I said, 'Oh I love you, Mom,' and I pinched her cheeks because her cheeks were so cute.

    "She went back to the doorway and she looked at me, and I looked at her, and I said, 'Can I have you one more hug?' And she said, 'Of course, of course you can have one more hug.' And she came and she hugged me again. I said, 'I love you so much, Mom, I'll see you tomorrow.'"

    Genesis said she was lucky to experience such a "selfless, unconditional, pure love" like her mother's. 

    "She was brave enough to do that knowing that there's consequences, like danger, but she loved us," said her 12-year-old son, Peter Vega. "She wanted to sacrifice for us, so she did it."

    Mayor Bill de Blasio paid tribute to Familia's journey to the NYPD -- the embodiment of the American dream, he said.

    "Child of immigrants, the first in her family to go to college," he said. "A beautiful New York City story. A striver. She always was working to better herself and her family. She had a goal: she wanted with all her heart to be a New York City police officer. She knew nothing would stop her, and nothing did." 

    Miosotis grew up with her family in Washington Heights before they moved to the Bronx, according to NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, who also spoke at the funeral. Serious but sharp-witted, she was the glue that held her family together, often mediating any dispute, especially among her six "feisty" sisters.

    "Known as a lovable goof, they playfully called her 'La Loco' -- 'The Crazy One,'" said O'Neill.

    Familia's favorite holiday was Valentine's Day: "She would go overboard with the hearts and the decorations at their Kingsbridge apartment, just so her kids could see the love that was theirs." 

    Tearing up as he addressed Familia's three children, O'Neill said, "Nothing I could say could bring your mom back. But I can make you this promise: your mom didn't die in vain. Your mom's legacy will never fade from the importance of memory. Your mom made it her mission to make your home, New York City, a better and safer place for everyone. And I vow to you, we will continue to find our way forward in her honor, because that's what cops do." 

    Taking aim at protesters and the media for what he sees as too much criticism of officers, O'Neill said Familia's death "should remind everybody that the civility of our city rests on a knife's edge."

    "Where are the demonstrations for the single mom who cared for her elderly mother and three children?" he asked to a thunderous, extended standing ovation from an audience packed with officers. "There is anger and sorrow, but why is there no outrage?"

    "Hate has consequences," he said. "When you demonize a whole group of people, whether that group is defined by race, by religion or by occupation, this is the result. I don't know how else to say it. This was an act of hate, in this case against police officers, the very people who stepped forward and promised to protect you day and night." 

    O'Neill, who prioritized a community policing strategy when he became commissioner last fall, called on the public to support police officers. 

    "I'm asking you to connect with your public," he said. "Listen to my words -- your police. We are yours. We are here to help. We are here to make things better, but we need your assistance. We need it now more than ever." 

    He noted the outpouring of support for the 46th Precinct in the wake of Familia's killing, saying, "I, too, could not be prouder of our cops."

    @knafehnewyork/Instagram

    O'Neill announced he was promoting Familia to first grade detective. 

    De Blasio echoed O'Neill's sentiment about the public needing to step up to protect police at a time when they're under attack. 

    "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," he said. 

    "We must end it," he said. "We must help our police in every way, just as we ask them to help us in our moment of need. ... They need us to be their eyes and ears. They need our solidarity and support."

    The Democratic mayor's remarks came after he faced criticism - some tweeted by Republican President Donald Trump - for spending the weekend with world leaders in Germany days after Familia's July 5 death. De Blasio attended Monday's wake.

    A formation of helicopters and a long line of police motorcycles marked the end of Familia's funeral. Her family and a throng of uniformed officers gathered outside the church as the flag covering her coffin was folded and presented to her son Peter. 

    Officers saluted and civilians placed their hands over their hearts. Peter's twin sister Delilah clutched the white-gloved hand of an officer. 

    Familia was in an RV-like command post stationed in a Bronx precinct July 5 when 34-year-old Alexander Bonds walked up to the vehicle and fired once through the passenger window, striking her in the head. Bonds ran from the scene but police caught up to him and opened fire, killing him after they said he turned the gun on them. Bonds had sought psychiatric care just days earlier.

    Familia is the first female NYPD officer to die in the line of duty since 9/11.