Jason Rivera, the New York City police officer who was shot and killed in an ambush in a New York apartment hallway, joined the police force in part to better the community’s relationship with law enforcement.
He was remembered for his constant smile and positive attitude.
In a statement, the New York Police Department identified the deceased officer and revealed that he was only 22 years old.
“Tonight, an NYPD police officer has lost his life — murdered — and another is gravely injured. The pain is incomprehensible for their loved ones, fellow officers, and NYC. Pray for the family of our young officer & for his partner who lies in a hospital bed fighting for his life,” wrote New York Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell on Twitter.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Rivera Was Described as a Son, Husband & Friend Who Was ‘Only 22 Years Old’
The NYPD released a tribute to Rivera.
“Tonight, we mourn the loss of a hero officer — a son, husband, and friend,” the department wrote.
“Only 22 years old, Police Officer Jason Rivera was murdered in the line of duty. We vow to #NeverForget Jason as his fellow Finest vow to honor his tremendous legacy of service & the ultimate sacrifice.”
In the news conference, Sewell said, “Tonight a 22-year-old son, husband, officer and friend was killed because he did what we asked him to do. Countless officers line the halls of this hallway after carrying him in and grieve for their brother while praying with everything they have for the other.”
She added: “I am struggling to find the words to express the tragedy we are enduring. We are mourning, and we’re angry. The NYPD. New York City. All of us. As I stand here in Harlem Hospital tonight, a New York City police officer has lost his life, murdered, and another one is fighting for his life to survive. The pain their families are experiencing is not something anyone can put into words.
2. Rivera Was From an Immigrant Family & Was the First Police Officer in His Family, Who Wanted to Better the Police/Community Relationship
Rivera described in a police department memo to his commanding officer why he became a police officer. The 2020 letter said:
When I applied to become a police officer, I knew this was the career for me. I would be the first person in my family to become a police officer. Coming from an immigrant family, I will be the first to say that I am a member of the NYPD, the greatest police force in the world. Growing up in New York City, I realized how impactful my role as a police officer would go in this chaotic city of about 10 million people. I know that something as small as helping a tourist with directions or helping a couple resolve an issue, will put a smile on someone’s face.
Growing up in Inwood, Manhattan, the community’s relationship between the police and the community was not great. 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 high rate. My perspective on police and the way they police really bothered me. 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 a part of the men in blue; better the relationship between the community and the police.
3. A Fundraiser Created to Help Rivera’s Family Describes Rivera as ‘Always Smiling’
A fundraiser was created to help Rivera’s family through Fund the First. It reads:
Last night we tragically lost one of our own in the NYPD – Police Officer Jason Rivera. As we mourn his death, we want to come together to show his family all the support they deserve during this trying time.
I personally worked with Jason in the 32 Precinct and all I can say is that he was an absolutely wonderful person and as a new officer on the job, he was always smiling and excited to go out no matter what his call of duty was. His cheer will be missed and will forever be in my prayers.
This fundraiser is to collect funds for his family to assist with their support system. A donation of any amount goes a long way. Please consider donating and sharing this fundraiser.
4. The Officers Were Ambushed as They Walked Down an Apartment Hallway, Police Say
In a news conference, Sewell said that the three officers who responded to the ultimately deadly call for service were “listening to a mother who called needing help for her son. As the officers were compassionately trying to provide aid to a 47 year old man, he suddenly and without warning opened fire on them. In a moment a young 22 year old life was ended and another forever altered. Our department is hurting. Our city is hurting. It is beyond comprehension; I am not sure what words if any will carry the weight of this moment and what we are feeling.”
Police said in the news conference that the officers went to the apartment at 6:15 p.m. in the evening on January 21, 2022. They were from the 32nd precinct. They were responding to a 911 call about a “family dispute.”
A woman was “disputing with her son,” but she mentioned no injuries or weapons. Officers entered the apartment and spoke to the female caller and her son. It was a brief conversation. She said that the son she was “disputing with was in the back bedroom.”
The dwelling was described as an open one-bedroom apartment with a 35-foot hallway with a bedroom at the end. One officer remained with the two family members while the other two officers went to the back bedroom. Police described the hallway as very tight and narrow.
They say McNeil swung open the door and fired numerous shots, striking both officers, one fatally, and leaving one in critical condition.
As McNeil tried to exit the apartment, the third officer shot him in the right arm and head.
According to police, McNeil, 47, has one prior arrest in New York City for a felony conviction of narcotics from 2003 and is on probation for it.
He was four arrests outside New York City. One is in South Carolina from 1998 for unlawful possession of a weapon. One was a 2002 assault on a police officer in Pennsylvania. One was a felony drug arrest and misdemeanor narcotics arrest in 2003 in Pennsylvania.
Police recovered a Glock .45 with a high-capacity magazine that holds up to 40 additional rounds. They say the firearm was stolen in Baltimore in 2017, and they are still working to trace it.
They called it a “brutal, senseless, ambush of two of our officers.”
5. The President Praised Police Officers’ ‘Extraordinary Sacrifice’
President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter, “Jill and I are saddened to hear two NYPD officers were shot last night — one fatally. We’re keeping them and their families in our prayers. Officers put on the badge and head into harm’s way every day. We’re grateful to them and their families for their extraordinary sacrifice.”
Sewell said that five officers have been shot in New York City in four incidents, praising the “valor and sacrifice of the NYPD.”
New York Mayor Eric Adams said in the news conference, “We must save this city together; that is what we must do.”
He also referred to “five officers” who “were shot in this city.”
Adams said there are no gun manufacturers in New York city. “We don’t make guns here,” he said.
READ NEXT: OnlyFans Model Accused of Stabbing Boyfriend