By LOUIS FLORES
NYPD officers Wenjian Lui and Rafael Ramos where shot while sitting in a marked patrol car by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, age 28, at approximately 2:47 p.m. Saturday afternoon with "no warning, no provocation, quite simply assassinated," NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said at a press conference from Woodhull Hospital on Saturday evening.
The officers were inside a critical response vehicle, or CRV, when Mr. Brinsley walked up to the police car and fired his weapon several times through front passenger window, striking both officers in the head. Commissioner Bratton said that the officers never had an opportunity to draw their own weapons. Generally, CRV's are used for counter-terroism work, but, this time, the officers were using the vehicle, parked near the outside the Tompkins Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, in connection with a temporary program assignment to housing developments that needed higher security, Commissioner Bratton said.
After shooting the two officers, Mr. Brinsley ran to the nearest subway station, reaching the westbound subway platform of the G train line, where he reportedly shot and killed himself. Officers Liu and Ramos were transferred to Woodhull Hospital, where they were later pronounced dead. The suspect was transferred to Brooklyn Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Commisioner Bratton said.
Commissioner Bratton added that before the suspect shot and killed Officers Liu and Ramos, the suspect was reportedly wanted for having shot his former girlfriend in Baltimore. Commissioner Bratton referred to anti-police social media postings made by Mr. Brinsley, postings which the media located and reshared across their own social media networks.
Within minutes of when the NYPD was receiving information about Mr. Brinsley's first shooting, Mr. Brinsley was reportedly shooting the two NYPD officers, Commissioner Bratton said. The deaths of officers Liu and Ramos marked the seventh time when police partners have been killed together, Commissioner Bratton said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio made very brief remarks, generally paying respect to the memory of the dead police officers, offering condolences to their surviving family members.
"Our city is in mourning," Mayor de Blasio said, adding, "Our hearts are heavy. We lost two good men, who devoted their lives to protecting all of us."
Mayor de Blasio thanked the medical staff at Woodhull, the leadership of NYPD, and civic leaders, who joined him at the press conference.
Additionally, Mayor de Blasio made a point to forcefully sound like he was outraged by the shooting deaths, saying that, "These officers were shot execution-style," adding that, "When a police officer is murdered, it tears at the foundation of our society."
Mayor de Blasio has been under fire by police unions from almost the start of his administration for, first, not negotiating in good faith with all police unions over their labor contract renewals, but, then more recently, over imposition of new, minor training programs in response to NYPD killings of unarmed or innocent people. By defending the honor of the police Saturday night, Mayor de Blasio hoped to affirm his support for his police force.
Mayor de Blasio closed his brief, primary remarks by trying to unify the city in fear, saying, "Every New Yorker should feel they, too, were attacked," that "our entire city was attacked," requesting that New Yorkers should report any information about plans for attacks on police.
Commisioner Bratton then retook the podium, and he basically drove the rest of the press conference, expressing sadness over the loss of lives, adding that, "Here we are coming into Christmas week to celebrate a birth that changed history," referring to Jesus Christ, then adding, "instead we are going to be mourning,"
Although no express motive was known for the shootings, the shootings were seized as an opportunity to politicize discord between Mayor de Blasio and each of the city's police unions and police reform activists, the latter who are seeking a fundamental overhaul at the NYPD to end policing tactics that deliberately target low-income communities and communities of color and to institute greater accountability for police corruption, misconduct, and other crimes, including homicides, which are committed by police with impunity. For weeks, large-scale protests have caused political consternation for Mayor de Blasio ever since police reform activists complained that the criminal justice system is rigged, especially after grand juries in St. Louis County, Missouri, and on Staten Island voted not to file criminal charges against police officers for deaths that had been ruled as homicides.
Mr. Brinsley reportedly had lived in Atlanta, had a former girlfriend in Baltimore, had some connections in Brooklyn, and may have moved around, Commissioner Bratton said, adding that NYPD are trying to determine more information about his past. One concern that Commissioner Bratton did rule out that was there was no apparently connectivity to terrorism groups.
By allowing Commissioner Bratton to drive the majority of the press conference, Mayor de Blasio hoped to avoid being dragged into political blowback over the shooting deaths, but that wasn't enough to insulate the mayor from criticisms from police unions, some civic leaders, and even some activists.
Whilst Gov. George Pataki (R-New York) took to Twitter to blame Mayor de Blasio, in part, for the deaths of the two NYPD officer, some activists took to criticize other politicians, such as Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York).
Councilmember Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) denounced as "inflammatory" a statement that was circulating between police officers and journalists, accusing Mayor de Blasio of having blood on his hands over the double NYPD homicides. The statement briefly reported to be official, and a separate tweet from the SBA Twitter account repeated the accusation.
The blood of 2 executed police officers is on the hands of Mayor de Blasio. May God bless their families and may they rest in peace.— SBA (@SBANYPD) December 21, 2014
But the statement was later disavowed as not being authentic, although some reporters doubted the disavowal.
An example of the visible tension between police and Mayor de Blasio was capture on video when police officers turned their backs to Mayor de Blasio as he entered Woodhull Hospital to meet with the surviving relatives of the dead police officers.