The heartbreaking death of an NYPD hero


The tragic murder of 31-year-old New York City Police Officer Jonathan Diller has had a devastating impact not just on his Massapequa Park community, but across Long Island, New York and indeed the country.

I represented Massapequa Park, and my district office was located there for all 28 years I was in Congress. Almost immediately after the news of Diller’s murder broke, blue ribbons appeared on local businesses and residences throughout Massapequa and Massapequa Park. Two nights later, there was a candlelight vigil at Brady Park that was attended by over 1,000 residents, who gathered in a steady rain to honor Diller’s memory.

The rain continued the following day, but that didn’t deter a long line of mourners from attending Diller’s wake at the Massapequa Funeral Home. Among those attending and showing his respects was former President Donald Trump, who met with and consoled Diller’s 29-year-old widow, Stephanie, and other members of his family. Trump demonstrated great dignity and respect, and clearly had a reassuring and calming effect on these good people.

I had the privilege of being there, and thanked Trump for giving strength to the Diller family and to the community. I also spoke briefly with Stephanie Diller, and was struck by her youth and her strength of character, which she will surely need after losing her husband so tragically and having to raise their 1-year-old son, Ryan, without his father.

The steady stream of mourners continued the following day, Good Friday, when there was the controversial incident involving Gov. Kathy Hochul, who, by some accounts, was asked to leave the funeral home by Diller family members. I’ve heard various versions of what happened, but all of them made it clear that it wasn’t the amicable discussion Hochul claimed.

The weather on Saturday morning was bright and clear for Diller’s funeral at St. Rose of Lima Church in Massapequa. Rosemary and I drove to the service with Sid Rosenberg, from WABC radio’s “Sid and Friends”; his wife, Danielle; and Bill O’Reilly. Merrick Road was a seemingly endless sea of blue, as thousands of police officers lined the street in both directions for as far as the eye could see.

We assembled across the street from St. Rose, in a group that included many strong supporters of the police, such as Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, former NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell and Congressmen Anthony D’Esposito and Andrew Garbarino. There were also those who didn’t belong, such as state Attorney General Letitia James and city Comptroller Brad Lander, who are shamefully anti-police.

The arrival of the hearse, the sound of muffled drums, a lone piper playing the haunting tones of “Amazing Grace,” the flag-draped coffin being carried into the church, followed by Stephanie Diller, holding Ryan in her arms, were truly heartbreaking.

Inside, the church was filled to overflowing with men and women in blue. My lasting memory will be of Stephanie’s courageous eulogy, in which she described her husband’s goodness and love, and then demanded that elected officials at long last correct the laws and policies that keep violent criminals on the streets and result in the senseless deaths of brave police officers. The church erupted in sustained applause, and there were tears everywhere.

Then mourners filed silently from the church and reassembled across Merrick Road. The coffin was carried from the church, and a bugler played taps. The flag was taken from the coffin and presented to Stephanie. The NYPD Pipe Band played “America the Beautiful.” The coffin was placed in the hearse, and the cortège began the journey bringing Jonathan Diller to his final resting place in St. Charles Cemetery. His life was over. His memory lives on.

NYPD hero Jonathan Diller, R.I.P.

Peter King is a former congressman, and a former chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Comments? pking@