As first responders, family, friends, and New Yorkers gathered at St. Patrick's Cathedral to say goodbye to fallen NYPD Officer Jason Rivera on Friday, his young widow delivered a heart-wrenching and powerful tribute to her 22-year-old husband who was shot and killed — along with his partner Wilbert Mora — in the line of duty last week.
"I would say good morning to you all, but in fact it's the worst morning ever," Dominique Luzuriaga began. "All of this seems so unreal, like I'm having one of those nightmares you never thought you'd have," she remarked.
"Jason is so happy right now that all of you are here, through pain and sorrow, this is exactly how he would have wanted to be remembered: like a true hero — or like I used to call him, 'Big P.O. Rivera.'" his widow told the packed cathedral and overflow crowd standing outside in the snow.
Police Officers and law enforcement from all over the country packed shoulder to shoulder to honor New York City’s Finest, our hero Police Officer Jason Rivera. #FidelisAdMortem pic.twitter.com/FiQqEoFZxv— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) January 28, 2022
"You have the whole nation on gridlock," Luzuriaga said of her late husband. "And although you won't be here anymore, I want you to live through me," she said. "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 DA," Rivera's widow said of new Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. "I hope he's watching you speak through me right now," she said to thunderous applause as those gathered to remember Rivera stood in solidarity against District Attorney Bragg's new policies.
"I'm sure all of our blue family is tired too. But I promise — we promise — that your death won't be in vain. I love you to the end of time," Rivera's widow said. "We'll take the watch from here."
"The system continues to fail us," Officer Rivera's widow says in powerful eulogy. "I know you were tired of the laws, especially the ones from the new DA. I hope he's watching you speak through me right now." pic.twitter.com/wH4RdlUxTv— Spencer Brown (@itsSpencerBrown) January 28, 2022
"Friday morning began just like every other morning before work. You were always my big spoon watching Netflix, YouTube law enforcement shorts, reading me your emails, and waiting for your mom to come home," Luzuriaga said before recalling the day her life would change forever:
Later that day I received a call I wish that none of you who are sitting here with me will ever receive. I had gotten a notification from the Citizen app, and I saw that two police officers were shot in Harlem. My heart dropped.
I immediately texted you and asked you, 'Are you ok? Please tell me you're ok. I know that you're mad right now but just text me you're ok — at least tell me you're busy.'
I get no response. We used to share locations on Find my iPhone, and when I checked yours I see that you're at Harlem hospital. I thought that maybe you were sitting on a perp, but still nothing. I called and then called again. And I called one more time. And this time I felt something wasn't right.
Then I get a call asking if I'm Jason's wife and that I had to rush to the hospital. Walking up those steps, seeing everybody staring at me, was the scariest moment I've experienced. Nobody was telling me anything. Thousands of people were surrounding me and yet I felt alone. I couldn't believe you left me.
Seeing you in that hospital bed wrapped up in sheets, not hearing you when I was talking to you, broke me. I asked why. I said to you, 'Wake up baby, I'm here.' The little bit of hope I had that you would come back to life just to say goodbye or say I love you one more time had left. I was lost. I'm still lost.
The widow of slain NYPD officer Jason Rivera: "Today I'm still in this nightmare that I wish I never had, full of rage and anger, hurt and sad, torn. Although I gained thousands of blue brothers and sisters, I'm the loneliest without you." pic.twitter.com/FYGt00aZu0— Spencer Brown (@itsSpencerBrown) January 28, 2022
"Today I'm still in this nightmare that I wish I never had," Rivera's widow continued. "Full of rage and anger, hurt and sad, torn. Although I gained thousands of blue brothers and sisters, I'm the loneliest without you. I know you're looking at me and beside me telling me I could do this. And I'm trying. Trust me I am. But I didn't prepare for this."