Trump, at Post-Funeral Ceremony of Slain New York Officer, Calls for ‘Law and Order’

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference after attending the wake of New York City police officer Jonathan Diller, Thursday, March 28, 2024, in Massapequa Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

MASSAPEQUA PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Donald Trump attended Thursday’s wake of a New York City police officer gunned down in the line of duty and called for “law and order,” as part of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s attempt to show a contrast with President Joe Biden and focus on crime as part of his third White House campaign.

The visitation for Officer Jonathan Diller, who was fatally shot during a traffic stop on Monday, was held in suburban Massapequa on Long Island. Police said the 31-year-old Diller was shot below his bulletproof vest while approaching an illegally parked car in Queens.

Diller, who was married and had a 1-year-old son, was rushed to a hospital, where he died.

Trump’s visit came as Biden was also in New York for a previously scheduled fundraiser with Democratic ex-presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Trump has accused Biden of lacking toughness and his campaign sought to contrast his visit with Biden’s fundraiser.

Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung, in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, noted Trump’s visit and said, “Meanwhile, the Three Stooges — Biden, Obama, and Clinton — will be at a glitzy fundraiser in the city with their elitist, out-of-touch celebrity benefactors.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that the president has spoken with New York City’s mayor, but she said she didn’t have any “private communications to share” when asked if Biden had spoken to the family of the officer who was killed. Jean-Pierre said the administration’s hearts go out to the officer’s family.

Speaking aboard Air Force One, she said Biden has supported law enforcement throughout his entire career and took a dig at Trump’s record. “Violent crime surged under the previous administration,” Jean-Pierre said. “The Biden-Harris administration have done the polar opposite, taking decisive action from the very beginning to fund the police and achieving a historic reduction in crime.”

After visiting in the funeral home with Diller’s family, Trump spoke outside to news reporters with about a dozen local police officers.

Trump called Diller’s killing “such a sad, sad event, such a horrible thing.”

“The police are the greatest people we have. There’s nothing and there’s nobody like them. And this should never happen,” Trump said.

He spoke about Diller’s wife and young son, saying he “doesn’t know how his life has been changed.”

“We have to get back to law and order. We have to do a lot of things differently. This is not working. This is happening too often,” Trump said.

“We’ve got to toughen it up,” he added.

Trump has deplored crime in heavily Democratic cities, and has made it a mainstay of his campaign.

Though Democrats outnumber Republicans in New York, this area is a heavily Republican part of Long Island that Trump won in the 2020 presidential election.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican, accompanied Trump and told reporters it was “a tremendous comfort to the family” to have Trump visit.

Inside the funeral home, Trump held a 10-minute meeting with Diller’s wife, Stephanie.

Trump then met with the rest of the family, giving his condolences to Diller’s mother, siblings, aunts and uncles, he said.

“It was a really good, warm conversation,” Blakeman said. “It was all talking about Jon and what kind of person he was as a father, son, husband. It was not about public policy or anything like that.”

The former president and his supporters sought a similar split screen with Biden earlier this month as they went after the president over crime and illegal immigration while both were campaigning in Georgia. Trump during his visit to the state met with the family of slain nursing student Laken Riley. An immigrant from Venezuela who entered the U.S. illegally is charged with her death.

Trump posted about Diller’s death on his social media network Tuesday, offering prayers to Diller’s family and appreciation for law enforcement. He also called the shooter a “thug” and noted that police said the shooter had numerous prior arrests, declaring that he “NEVER should have been let back out on the streets.”

On Thursday, prosecutors in Queens charged the alleged shooter, Guy Rivera, with first degree murder and other charges. Rivera, who was shot in the back when Diller’s partner returned fire, was arraigned from his hospital bed. Rivera’s lawyers at Legal Aid declined to comment, according to spokesman Redmond Haskins.

Diller was the first New York City police officer killed in the line of duty in two years.

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