02:25 - Source: CNN
Wife of slain NYPD officer speaks out

Story highlights

Widow of Wenjian Liu: "It's like a nightmare"

Pei Xia Chen appears on CNN's "New Day" to discuss the Tunnel to Towers Foundation

CNN  — 

The widow of a slain New York Police Department officer spoke out Tuesday for the first time since her husband’s death, telling CNN that it still feels like “a nightmare.”

It’s been five months since Pei Xia Chen’s husband, Wenjian Liu, was slain in the line of duty along with his partner, Rafael Ramos, as they sat parked in a Brooklyn squad car.

“He is my heart,” said Chen, who said she wears Liu’s badge every day.

Chen, who goes by “Sanny,” appeared on CNN’s “New Day” with Frank Siller, the chairman of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, an organization that supports military veterans and first responders.

Siller, whose brother Stephen was a firefighter killed in the 9/11 attacks, said the organization seeks to be there for grieving families long-term.

“When the dust settles, everybody goes home and these families are left,” he said. “They are grieving and they get on with life without their loved ones, and we want to make sure we are going to be there for them long afterward.”

Siller said it took just 10 days for the foundation to raise enough money to pay off the couple’s mortgage.

“I just want to thank everyone who contributes to this foundation,” Chen said. “It’s amazing.”

Killing exposes rift

Police say that Officers Liu and Ramos were the victims of an assassin who broadcast his intention to kill police on social media as revenge for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner – both unarmed African-Americans who lost their lives in confrontations with law enforcement.

Amid weeks of anti-police protests and demonstrations in New York and around the country, the officers’ deaths became a flash point between law enforcement and some underprivileged communities, and came to symbolize a rift between the nearly 35,000-strong NYPD and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The head of New York’s police union said de Blasio – who said he had to teach his biracial son how to deal with police – had “blood on his hands” at the time.

Though the spotlight of tension between law enforcement and minority communities has moved on from New York to places like North Charleston, South Carolina, and Baltimore, Chen wants everyone to know that the men and women who put on a uniform each day are not that bad guys.

“They are on the street to protect you (and) to help you,” she said. “We should trust law enforcement … we should respect them.”