Funeral Held For NYPD Det. Jason Rivera, 22-Year-Old Killed In Line Of Duty In Harlem
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A sea of blue filled Fifth Avenue Friday morning as thousands of officers from across the country bid a final farewell to a fallen hero.
There was a distinct heaviness in the air as people who loved Det. Jason Rivera and those who never even met him came to say goodbye to a man described as the very definition of integrity and joy.
As CBS2's Jessica Moore reports, thousands of people gathered inside and outside St. Patrick's Cathedral for a moment that arrived decades too soon.
Fellow officers draped Rivera's casket in white - as pure as the fallen hero, described as loyal and loving, with a smile that could be seen for miles.
Watch: Widow Dominique Luzuriaga Delivers Emotional Eulogy
"In only 22 years he found the job and the woman of his dreams. Many don't achieve that in a lifetime," said Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell.
The beloved rookie died last Friday, ambushed during a routine call in Harlem.
He was a son, a brother, a friend, and a newlywed husband of only three months.
His widow, Dominique Luzuriaga, bravely stepped forward to share her unimaginable grief.
"I would say 'good morning' to you all, but in fact, it's the worst morning ever," she said.
She choked back tears, remembering how they were married nearly four months ago, each 22 years old. It was a love story that was supposed to go on forever.
Watch Jessica Moore's report
"I never thought that our innocent childhood love would lead us to marriage. Even when we said, 'I do,' we couldn't believe we said it. October 9th was the happiest day of our lives," Dominique Luzuriaga said.
Luzuriaga said that sometimes it's hard to be a cop's wife and talked about an argument they had on the day he died.
"You asked me if you are sure that you don't want me to take you home. 'It might be the last ride I give you.' I said no, and that was probably the biggest mistake I ever made," she said.
Luzuriaga wept as she remembered the moment she realized her best friend was gone.
Watch: Full Funeral Service For Det. Jason Rivera
"Seeing you in a hospital bed, wrapped up in sheets, not hearing me 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," Luzuriaga said.
She broke down while sharing memories of their worst day, when she found out he was gone.
"I couldn't believe you left me," Luzuriaga said.
Photos: Honoring Det. Jason Rivera
Family meant everything to Rivera, but fulfilling his childhood dream of wearing NYPD blue meant even more.
Jeffrey Rivera said he knew for certain his younger brother wanted to become a police officer and spend the rest of his life with Luzuriaga.
"Everyone keeps telling me over and over and over again, you had such, such a big influence on your brother," Jeffrey Rivera said. "No matter how much I begged him to not become a police officer, I had no influence on that."
"I can't really put it into words, how broken I am. How broken my mother is, how broken my father is, how empty we feel. I can't put it into words," Jeffrey Rivera said. "My brother had a lot of fears. My brother was afraid of heights. He was afraid of rats. He was afraid of dogs - he was afraid of dogs. But he wasn't afraid to die to wear that uniform. He was not afraid to die."
Watch: Jeffrey Rivera's Eulogy For His Brother
Jason Rivera was posthumously promoted to detective, and will forever be remembered by a title he never set out to earn - a hero to the entire city.
"Jason rose to every challenge that crossed his path ... I promote him today to detective first grade," Sewell said.
"To know Jason is to admire him. To know Jason is to respect him. To know Jason is to love him," 32nd Precinct Commanding Officer Inspector Amir Yakatally said.
"He has been hailed a hero, but not a recognition, not an ambition, that I believe Jason sought after. He was a police officer, a public servant who did his job. He put others first," Father Robert Abbatiello said.
"He's a hero not for the way he died, but for the way he lived. He was a hero not because he had a shield in his pocket, he had a shield in his soul," said PBA President Pat Lynch.
Rivera's first responder family, including those retired and still in service, gathered with an incredible show of support for their brother in blue.
"The job itself is very painstaking every day. You never know what's going to happen to you. So I think that's what brings us together. The ties that bond us," said Ret. NYPD Officer Adriana Aviles.
"I love you 'til the end of time. We'll take the watch from here," Luzuriaga said.
Rivera was described as having what we all want in a police officer.
"This has always been a city of lights, and police officer Jason Rivera was one of its brightest," NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said.
Rivera gave his life protecting the city and continues to do so in death.
"We will ensure everything within our powers to not lose our family members through this senseless violence," Mayor Eric Adams said. "The hearts of 8.8 million people are reaching out in mourning today. I can not thank you enough."
"In peace, we take our brother Jason to his place of rest," Timothy Cardinal Dolan said.
Rivera is the first non-cleric to have his wake at St. Patrick's Cathedral since Bobby Kennedy in 1968.
Early Friday morning, a convoy carried members of the Suffolk County Police Department from Brentwood to the city.
Suffolk Officer Angel Vera told CBS2 he went through training with Rivera.
"He was a great man, great officer. Newly married, always had a smile on his face, no matter what was happening, what we were doing," Vera said. "I'm at a loss for words... I hope a tragedy like this doesn't happen again."
After the funeral Mass, a motorcade carried Rivera's casket up to Fern Cliff Cemetery in Hartsdale in Westchester County for a private cremation.
Along the way, first responders stood by to deliver one final salute.
Services for Rivera's partner Wilbert Mora will be held next week.
Jenna DeAngelis and Jessica Moore contributed to this report.
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