MIDTOWN – Wilbert Mora, a New York City police officer who was shot with his partner in an ambush in Harlem on January 21, was remembered Wednesday, February 2, for his colossal size and heart.
Mora’s funeral was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral with Cardinal Timothy Dolan as the celebrant. The liturgy, which was concelebrated by Bishop Robert Brennan of the Brooklyn Diocese, was attended by Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, and thousands of NYPD members gathered on the streets outside the cathedral.
From her older brother Wilson to police commissioner Keechant Sewell, Mora has been described as a “gentle giant” and a much-loved “teddy bear.” They also recounted how the 27-year-old policeman bravely faced the danger and eventually died in the line of duty, protecting the citizens of the city he loved.
“Everyone says you’re a big teddy bear,” Wilson Mora said as he praised his brother. “But you were like that, even when you were little. My mother filled us with love and you absorbed it like a sponge. So, as an adult, I’ve seen your love for your friends and for people come out in ways that others can’t. “
“I just want you to know that I’ve always been proud of you,” said Wilson Mora. “You have chosen a service life for your community and for our adopted country. Your fellow officers were not only colleagues, but also friends and family. And now they are my family. ”
Mora was a boy when she came to the United States with her family from the Dominican Republic. He grew to 6 feet tall and weighed about 250 pounds.
NYPD Inspector Amir Yakatally, Mora’s section 32 commander, said he was funny, open and a “gentle giant,” but “all business” when he was supposed to be.
Mora and Rivera, 22, were mortally wounded on January 21 while answering a 911 call reporting a domestic disorder call in Harlem. Rivera died of his wounds that night; Mora died four days later.
A third officer, Sumit Sulan, shot the suspect, 47-year-old Lashawn McNeil, while trying to flee the scene. McNeil died on January 24. In his remarks, Mayor Adams, a former police captain, praised Officer Sulan for preventing several tragedies on that fateful night.
Police Commissioner Sewell said he learned about Mora, the man, from his NYPD commanders and colleagues. She recounted her career, starting with her entry into the Police Academy in 2018. She said she is the “perfect candidate” to join the department.
“Wilbert and his family came to this country for an opportunity, safety and security,” Sewell said. “No one had to tell him to become a police officer. It was all he ever wanted to do. It was the most beloved, significant and inextricable part of his life.
“I was told that the only close second was PlayStation 5. But the threatening forces he faced on screen were nothing like the malice that would take Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera out of our lives.”
Sewell announced at the funeral that he had promoted Officer Mora to the rank of first detective, as he had done for Rivera at his funeral.
“Wilbert,” she said, “served this department with courage, honor, as a colossal symbol of promise, not for the size of his body, but for the goodness in his heart.”
It is a heart that lives literally; Mora’s parents decided to donate it, along with his liver, kidneys and pancreas, to save the lives of five strangers. Patrick Lynch, president of the NYPD Benevolent Police Association, praised family members for the decision. He said he followed them to the hospital just before Mora died.
“I wonder,” Lynch told the family, “where does a person like this have the power to put on his uniform, put that shield on his chest, and get behind the wheel of that radio car and answer the next call?” ? And then I met you.
“Because you made the bold decision to save the lives of others,” Lynch added. “You have made the decision to give the best of your son – the golden standard of life, the golden standard of his soul, his heart, his organs.”
Thousands of NYPD officers across the country and around the world lined the streets outside St. Patrick’s and more than 10 blocks along 5th Avenue to honor Mora. They all drew attention and greeted him as his coffin was taken from the cathedral to a funicular.
Rivera’s wife paid tribute to Mora by showing up at the funeral home and posted on social media.
“Although I have never met you, thank you for always being willing to work with my angel, no matter if he is a beginner,” Dominique Luzuriaga wrote in an Instagram post. “Take care of us.”
During Rivera’s funeral last week, Luzuriaga criticized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for his commitment not to prosecute certain crimes. She said that all New Yorkers are less safe, a remark that applauded.
No specific criticism was made during Mora’s funeral, although Mayor Adams renewed his commitment to end the wave of gun violence that has swept the city in recent years.
“Every day I walk the streets of New York, the people of this city remind me to support the police and tell them we appreciate them,” the mayor said. “But our city will do more than thank you. We will give you the resources to fight this senseless violence.
“It’s New Yorkers against killers, and we won’t lose. We will protect our city. ”