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Thousands came to salute, mourn NYPD’s Jonathan Diller


On a windy and cool Holy Saturday morning on Long Island’s South Shore, family, friends and thousands of fellow cops bid goodbye to NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller, the married father of a 1-year-old boy, who was shot and killed in Queens March 25 by a career criminal. 

During funeral services for the 31-year-old officer at St. Rose of Lima R.C. Church in Massapequa, not far from where he, his wife and young son Ryan were building a life, mourners spoke of their gratitude for having known Diller as a friend and as a cop, as a husband and as a father. 

They spoke of his passion for hockey and lacrosse, of his dedication to the department and its mission, of the respect he engendered and of his love for his wife and son.  

Noting that Diller was in his late 20s when he joined the NYPD, Commissioner Edward Caban said Diller “had done some living by that point.” 

“And he brought both his life experience and his big personality to his 50,000 new brothers and sisters,” Caban continued. “When you talk to the cops who work with Jon, they'll tell you there was a time in their career before they'd worked with him, and then there was everything that came after. He was special. He left a lasting impression. And after you met him, everything was different. Everything was better…. He loved this work and he was darned good at it.”

But they also spoke about resolve and responsibility, Stephanie Diller most of all. Recalling the January 2022 killings of NYPD Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora in a West Harlem apartment by a heavily armed ex-con, the officer’s widow implored city officials. 

“It’s been two years and two months since Detective Rivera and Detective Mora made the ultimate sacrifice — just like my husband, Jonathan Diller. Dominique Rivera stood in front of all the elected officials present today pleading for change. That change never came,” she told the hundreds of mourners inside the church, her 14-month old son in the arms of an officer standing just behind her. “How many more police officers and how many more families need to make the ultimate sacrifice before we start protecting them?”

Diller, a member of the 105th Precinct’s Community Response Team, was shot and killed after he and other officers approached an illegally parked car in Far Rockaway, Queens. Police said Diller was shot once in the stomach by a man with 21 prior arrests. Officials said Diller, mortally wounded, was still able to wrestle the gun away from the shooter before the man was shot by police. 

Diller was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The suspected killer, Guy Rivera, 34, has since been arraigned on charges of murder of a police officer, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon. 

The South Shore of Long Island Saturday ahead of the funeral for NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
The South Shore of Long Island Saturday ahead of the funeral for NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

‘He saved lives’

Mayor Eric Adams saluted the young officer, calling him a bulwark against chaos and disorder, “a hero to all New Yorkers and all Americans.”

“He ran towards danger, taking risks, making arrests and undoubtedly saving lives,” the mayor, a former 22-year New York City cop, said. “And despite all of those interactions with bad people doing bad things to good people, he adorned that uniform to go out and continue to fight on behalf of the people of this city. So, today we mourn his life, we reflect on his bravery, we remember his sacrifice, and above all, we stand together united as one.”

Adams, who earlier in the week said it was imperative to empower prosecutors and judges to keep violent recidivists off the streets, told mourners that cops’ jobs were harder now than during his police tenure, which concluded in 2006. 

“It is harder today to be a police officer, more difficult than the times that I wore the uniform,” he said. But he also sought to reassure cops, who are contending with a decrease in the number of officers, pronounced anti-police sentiments from some quarters and, with Diller’s killing, a continuing series of high-profile violent incidents, even as the overall crime rate citywide continues to decline. 

“You are inundated every day with those who are loud but they're not the majority,” Adams said. 

He pledged to support the officers. “And today, on the saddest days, I want Jonathan's family to know, I want all the families of all our police officers to know, your mayor stands with you. I am you,” he continued. “We're going to make sure you have what you need to do your job, including making sure that violent career criminals are held accountable for their crimes and doing all we can to end that gun violence in this city.”

The officer’s killing also became a political flashpoint, with the leader of at least one city police union, the Sergeants Benevolent Association’s Vincent Vallelong, calling out City Council members he said “have declared war on the police.” In a March 27 letter addressed to his “Brothers and Sisters in the NYPD," Vallelong said they and other elected officials he suggested were unsympathetic to cops were not welcome at the officer’s funeral. 

“They are as morally responsible for PO Diller’s death as the career criminal who pulled the trigger,” he wrote.

At St. Rose of Lima R.C. Church Saturday, the head of the Police Benevolent Association, Patrick Hendry, in uniform but his shield adorned with a black mourning band and his voice quaking with emotion, said it was in cops’ nature to hold out hope, even for the impossible. 

“We’re praying still, wishing that somehow, some way, we could bring Jonathan back home. And we feel that way, because we’re New York City police officers, saving people’s lives, helping people. It’s in our DNA. It’s what we do, it’s what Jonathan did, too,” the union leader said.  

Noting Diller’s previous career in the maritime industry, Hendry said it was nonetheless clear Diller would one day be a police officer. 

“But he knew that the path that he was going to take one day was to raise his right hand and take the oath and become a New York City police officer,” he said. “His goal was to rise to the top of this department. And he was on his way to doing that, no doubt about it.”




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