Things That Matter

New York City Lost Two Heroes This Week – Here’s What We Know About the Deaths of Young Officers, Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora

Jason Rivera, 22, and Wilbert Mora, 27, died in the line of duty after they responded to a domestic violence call in Harlem. Rivera, a rookie cop, had only been on the force for 14 months before losing his life.

Before he joined the force, Rivera wrote a passionate letter to the NYPD Academy about why he wanted to become a police officer. In the letter, he explained that one of the primary reasons he wanted to become a police officer was to improve relations between the NYPD and the larger New York City community.

“Growing up in Inwood, Manhattan, the community’s relationship between the police and the community was not great,” he wrote. “I remember one day when I witnessed my brother being stopped and frisked. I asked myself, ‘Why are we being pulled over if we are in a taxi?’ I was too young to know that during that time, the NYPD was pulling over and frisking people at a higher rate.”

“My perspective on police and the way they police really bothered me,” he continued. “As time went on, I saw the NYPD pushing hard on changing the relationship between the police and the community. This was when I realized that I wanted to be part of the men in blue; better the relationship between the community and the police.

Rivera went on to explain that, as a child of immigrants, he was proud to become part of “the greatest police force in the world.”

“I know that somethings [sic] so small is [sic] helping a tourist with directions, or helping a couple resolve an issue will put a smile on someone’s face,” he wrote.

Friends and family described Rivera as a kind, family-oriented person. “He was a humble person, I always saw him at church,” said 52-year-old Luisa Jimenez to the New York Post in Spanish. “He was very hard-working, very sweet, a family person, always with his family, and he was very close to his Catholic faith.”

27-year-old Wilbert Mora died on Tuesday after battling his injuries since Friday night. The gunman Lashawn McNeil, died from his own injuries on Monday. Since his death happened so recently, authorities and Mora’s family members have not yet made public statements about his death.

Rivera’s wife, Dominique, took to social media to describe the relationship she had with her late husband — who she had married only four months earlier.

“Yesterday I visited the locker room where you used to FaceTime me at [sic] during your meal time or right before you had to go downstairs to the muster room for roll call at 15:00,” Dominique wrote on Instagram.

“Last night was supposed to be your day 5 & you were RDO for the next three days,” she continued. “We both waited for your RDO’s to spend them together. But now your soul will spend the rest of my days without me, throughout me, right beside me. I love you till the end of time.”

The NY Police and Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund said that they will be giving Dominique $25,000 donation and are raising money to provide her with a yearly pension for life.

The NYPD Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch publicly encouraged first responders from across the nation to attend Rivera’s funeral. Officials revealed that JetBlue Airlines would be flying the officers’ relatives and many other law enforcement officers to Rivera’s funeral on Friday, which will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.

“Please join us to mourn Police Officer Jason Rivera as if he was your own flesh and blood. And please pray hard for our injured brother, because he is your brother, too,” Lynch said in a press conference on Saturday, before Mora passed away. “They walked these city streets beside you. They shared the same dreams and the same worries that you have,” he added.

Of Wilbert Mora’s sacrifice, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell called him “3 times a hero.”

“For choosing a life of service. For sacrificing his life to protect others,” and “for giving life even in death through organ donation. Our heads are bowed & our hearts are heavy.” Details on Mora’s funeral arrangements are forthcoming.

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