NYPD cop Jonathan Diller’s widow calls on city to get tougher on crime at funeral

NEW YORK — The widow of New York City Police Department Officer Jonathan Diller called on the city to get tougher on crime and do more to protect its police officers during her husband’s funeral Saturday, claiming that change demanded by another cop’s widow two years ago never materialized.

“At the funeral for Detective Rivera two and a half years ago, his wife Dominique pleaded for change,” Stephanie Diller said to a packed crowd at St. Rose of Lima R.C. Church in Massapequa. “That change never came and now my son will never know his father and I will grow old without my husband.”

During her husband’s funeral, Rivera’s wife Dominique Luzuriaga Rivera called out Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and the city’s lax approach of prosecuting criminals.

“The system continues to fail us,” Luzuriaga said from the pulpit at the time. “We are not safe any more, not even the members of the service. I know you are tired of these laws.”

Overflowing crowds both inside and outside the church applauded Stephanie Diller’s pleas Saturday, which came after a heartfelt trip down memory lane about her beloved husband who was shot dead on Monday in Queens.

Stephanie fondly recalled how they were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend and their courtship. Before joining the NYPD Diller’s work would take him away from New York for weeks on end, but he would send Stephanie emails with subject lines that read “Jonathan Diller is a stud” and “I’m going to spoil the heck out of you when I come home.”

“I have over 100 emails from him that I will forever cherish,” she said.

Stephanie especially liked when Jonathan would jokingly call the two of them “Batman and Robin.”

“But he would say I was Batman and he was Robin,” she remembered as a relative cradled the couple’s 1-year-old son Ryan.

Ryan, holding a small water bottle, was dressed in a tiny suit.

“This is a devastating, senseless loss for so many,” Stephanie said, choking up during her speech. “It’s a shame someone who was so positive was given such a negative ending. It breaks my heart knowing that Ryan will grow up without his dad. There was so much [Jonathan] wanted to teach him.

“How many more police officers and their families will have to make the ultimate sacrifice before the city protects them?” she asked.

Those in attendance at the somber service included Mayor Eric Adams and NYPD Police Commissioner Edward Caban, who posthumously promoted Diller to detective first grade. Diller’s new shield number is 110 — his son’s birthday.

Every time he had a good arrest, he would text Stephanie “with a bunch of smiley emojis,” Caban said.

During his three-year career, Diller racked up more than 70 arrests. His final collar was just a few days before his death “when he took a loaded gun off our streets,” Caban said.

An estimated 10,000 people showed up at the Long Island church to pay their final respects for Diller. Mourners who attended Diller’s wake Thursday and Friday included former President Donald Trump and Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Large screens outside the church showed what was going on inside for the huge crowd of mourners gathered on the street. Some people cried openly as Diller’s widow delivered her emotional speech.

“It’s one of the most beautiful things to see all the people here standing together for one reason,” said retired NYPD Sergeant Brian Foley, who showed up to support Diller’s family. Foley, 46, had retired from Patrol Borough Queens South and patrolled the same borough Diller did.

“You could hear a pin drop. It’s one of the saddest things I’ve seen in my life,” he said about the funeral. “I teared up a little bit.”

To Mayor Adams, Diller’s death hit closer to home than expected. A member of his security team, Jennifer, who had been with Adams since his election, is Diller’s cousin, he said.

“As I walked into the [hospital] room, I saw Stephanie and the family,” Adams recalled. “It was just so overwhelming. Our grief for this young man is real and raw. It’s very hard to be a police officer. It’s more difficult than the time when I wore the uniform.”

The 31-year-old cop graduated from Maritime College in 2014 and was a student at St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset, where he was a member of the lacrosse team and helped his teammates win two championships.

His first job was in the shipping industry before joining the NYPD at 28. His love of athletics continued with the NYPD, where he played catcher for the precinct softball team. He was also highly regarded by colleagues, Caban said.

“He was special,” the police commissioner explained. “He made a lasting impression and after you met him, everything was different, everything was better. He quickly became one of our best. Not only a great cop, but a great light for so many.”

Diller was a member of the Queens North Community Response Team during Monday’s fatal encounter with Guy Rivera, 34, an ex-con charged with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting Diller, and with attempted murder for trying to shoot Sgt. Sasha Rosen.

Rivera’s gun jammed after he fired a single fatal shot and Rosen escaped unharmed, according to police.

Each day, Diller would come to work with a “positive energy” that couldn’t be matched, his Community Response Team supervisor Sgt. David Pierson told the Daily News Friday.

“He was just eager to learn and at the end of the night he would tell everybody he loved us,” Pierson recalled fondly. “I never saw him aggressive, cynical, none of that. He was there to learn, he was there to work and it was just great to have him around.

“Everybody was eager to work with him,” said Pierson.

Over the last week, critics have bashed the city’s bail reform laws for allowing Rivera and his accomplice Lindy Jones, also an ex-con, to be on the streets, but there is no evidence to suggest that criminal justice reform benefited either suspect.

Monday’s shooting was Rivera’s first arrest since bail reform, which didn’t take effect until 2020. Jones, 41, was arrested on weapons charges last year, but was ordered held on $75,000 bail, which he paid. Jones also has two sealed arrests since 2020.

The two men are currently being held on Rikers Island without bail.

But as she watched a squadron of silent bagpipers lead the fallen cop’s hearse to the church, Massapequa resident Cristina Artale couldn’t help but agree with Stephanie Diller’s pleas for change.

“Laws need to change because this did not have to happen,” she said as she stood with her family. “I did not know [Diller] at all. I just feel like it hits closer to home when it’s your own hometown. Having young children, knowing he has a young son. It’s upsetting.”

Lou Dello was stunned by the turnout for Diller.

“It’s just a sea of blue,” he said of all the uniform officers. “[The cops] need help. They’re out there putting their lives on the line and then this happens.

“[Diller] just went over and knocked on the window … and this is what happens,” Dello, 66, said, recalling the clash that led to Diller’s death.

Rivera dropped the gun after the shooting. Despite his mortal wound, Diller “wrestled the gun out of the shooter’s hand, saving lives,” Caban said.

When the NYPD’s rank and file heard Diller had been shot, “Every single New York City police officer was praying he was going to make it,” Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Hendry said.

“He confronted two dangerous, evil individuals and it cost him his life,” Hendry said. “It cost this city its bravest protector and cost his family everything.”

As the debate over the city’s criminal justice reform continues, Foley only had one suggestion for city and state legislators going forward.

“They should walk a beat then come talk to me,” the retired cop said.

And, come Sunday, Pierson and his fellow cops, along with the rest of the city, will try to find their footing again in the wake of Diller’s death.

“John would want us to be out there,” Pierson said. “He’d want us to be doing the work he loved to do. We’re going to have to be together as a team and go out there as a team. We’ll keep him in our thoughts when we’re out there.”