Police Officer Wilbert Mora was remembered as a gentle giant at his funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Wednesday morning, the youngest of four siblings, who immigrated to New York City from the Dominican Republic at age seven with his family.
Thousands of NYPD police officers and law enforcement officials from the surrounding region flooded the streets and roadways outside the cathedral, ahead of a procession to Queens where Mora would be laid to rest. Mora was shot and killed in the line of duty last month along with Jason Rivera, whose funeral was last week.
Speaking in Spanish before thousands of mourners, Mora’s older sister Karina Mora described her little brother’s contagious smile.
“It didn’t matter how tired he was coming home from work, he lit up the house with his smile,” she said. “Today that light goes out, with pain, forever.”
She recalled the fear with which she watched her little brother growing up in East Harlem, afraid he wouldn’t make it to adulthood. She said she felt an enormous sense of relief when he graduated from the police academy in 2018.
“I felt an infinite peace to know that my little brother wasn’t lost in the streets of New York,” she said. “I never imagined that my peace would last less than four years.”
Mora, 27, succumbed to his injuries on January 25th, four days after he was shot while responding to a 911 call for help from a mother calling about her adult son LaShawn McNeil. Officials say McNeil, 47, opened fire on the responding officers. McNeil was also killed in the encounter, shot by a third Officer Sumit Sulan, according to city officials and news reports.
Both Mora and Rivera were posthumously promoted to Detective First Grade by NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell.
“Wilbert served this department bravely, honorably, as a colossal symbol of promise, not for the size of his frame,” Sewell said Wednesday, referring to the fallen officer who was well over six feet tall, “but for the goodness in his heart.”
Mora was a 2018 graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the school confirmed. In a note to staff, professor Irina Zakirova, said Mora had written his final paper on the differences between proactive versus reactive policing, the impacts of stop and frisk and community policing. He was also an organ donor and his heart, liver, two kidneys and pancreas went on to save the lives of five other people, according to Live On NY which facilitates organ transplants.
Speaking at his funeral, Mayor Eric Adams thanked Mora for his sacrifice.
“Our city is going to do more than thank you. We are going to give you the resources to fight this senseless violence,” he said. Then repeating a line he’d first said in the immediate aftermath of the January 21st attack, added, “it is New Yorkers against the killers and we will not lose. We will protect our city.”
Mora’s older brother Wilson also spoke to the crowd, recalling his brother’s goofy side, saying he’d belly dance for laughs from the family, and smother his mother with hugs and kisses every morning.
“We had so many plans together. We were supposed to travel and go camping and go on road trips. I wanted to experience the adventure with you because your love for life was infectious,” Mora said. “I just want you to know that I was always proud of you. You chose a life of service to your community and to our adopted country.”