NEW YORK, NY – Five years ago, Genesis Villella had to grow up. Fast. The then-20-year-old suddenly became the head of her family when her mother, Miosotis Familia, was murdered by a crazed man while on the job in the Bronx.
Villella will forever be known as the daughter of a slain NYPD officer, which is hell enough. But she has also been in a legal hell for the past five years while she raises her two younger siblings and fights the system over access to her mother’s pension. And time is running out, she says.
The CHILDREN of HERO COP MIOSOTIS FAMILIA DESERVE FINANCIAL COMPENSATION——FOR LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!https://t.co/FJ7L27PHnB
— Greg Kelly (@gregkellyusa) June 5, 2022
Villella was forced to step in as primary caregiver when Familia was shot in the head July 5, 2017, and a heartless legal peculiarity has compounded her grief.
While spouses and parents of NYPD police officers who die in the line of duty are rightfully entitled to the officer’s pension for life, the children of single-parent officers are not. So not only do they lose their parent, they lose the benefit that their parent worked to accrue and there is no other income.
Villella, now 25, spoke with The Post last week. She said:
“Since I’m raising my brother and sister, my mother’s dependents, as their mother — and I will be their mother for the rest of their life — I think we should get the pension for life the same way every other family of a police officer who is killed in the line of duty.”
Twins Peter and Delilah Vega, 17, can collect their mom’s pension up until age 23. To receive the benefit, though, the family of three must continually jump through legal hurdles. The process, which Villella called “torture,” involves having to first seek approval from the Bronx Surrogate’s Court. Through tears, Villella said:
“Besides the daily grief of losing my best friend, my hero, I also have to worry if we will have money to pay the bills in a few years.”
“The financial grief is an added stress. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in five years.”
Familia, a 12-year NYPD veteran, was sitting in a marked mobile precinct at 12:30 a.m. July 5, 2017, when a gunman appeared, walked up to the car and fired a shot through the window without warning, hitting her in the head on East 183rd St. near Morris Avenue.
It was a deliberate “cop assassination,” one law enforcement source told The Post.
The killer, Alexander Bonds, 34, was in turn gunned down by police a short distance away.
Familia, 48, who was posthumously promoted to detective, had no beneficiaries for her pension — but had three dependents: her then-20-year-old daughter and her twins, a boy and a girl, who were only 12 at the time.
Villella had to quit school to make ends meet and raise her younger siblings, while also learning how to navigate the court system to get her mother’s pension. Villella explained:
“It took me four years to finally get my mother’s check deposited directly. Previously, I had to take the check to the court where it was Xeroxed, and then I had to deposit it into a bank that the judge picked.
“Originally, the bank opened up a [certificate of deposit] instead of a savings account. The bank had to correct the mistake. Also, every time, I had to go to the court where … my mother worked as a cop, and also two miles from where she was heinously executed.”
Villella herself was cut off from the pension in 2020, when she turned 23. Under current law, children can receive the benefit until they reach 18 years old. After that, they must meet strict criteria, including being enrolled in school, in order to receive the pension until they turn 23 years old.
That means Peter and Delilah have a little more than five years before they, too, are cut off.
Kathy Vigiano, president of the nonprofit Survivors of the Shield, spoke with The Post about the children’s situation. She said:
“When our single officers give their life in the line of duty, the least we can do as a city is make sure their children are taken care of in a way they are accustomed to, if not better.”
Founded in 1988, the group provides benefits and support to families of slain NYPD officers. Vigiano noted:
“There shouldn’t be a cutoff at age 23. These kids are broken. It may take a few more years to finish college or a trade school. We should make life easier for these children, not harder.
“A parent is there to help support their child in every step in their life, right into adulthood. These children have lost that.”
Organizations and private citizens have helped Familia’s orphaned children through the years, including the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which gifted them an apartment in Riverdale.
— Survivors of the Shield (@SurvivorsShield) May 15, 2018
Several lawmakers in Albany have also tried to help, with no success.
Three weeks after Familia’s death, state Sen. Jose Peralta of Queens submitted a bill that proposed paying officers’ children up to $1,000 a month for up to 10 years. Tragically, Peralta died the following year and the legislation failed to move forward.
Last month, state Assemblyman Peter Abbate of Brooklyn introduced a bill that proposed reinstating Villella’s benefits until her younger siblings reach 23 years of age.
Unfortunately, the bill was introduced late in the legislative session and failed to find a required senate sponsor. Abbate said last week:
“The final straw was no senate sponsor. It’s taking forever these days to get fiscal notes out of the city.”
While grateful, Villella said the bill would have provides only a bandage on an unhealed wound. She said:
“It doesn’t address that I am the parent taking care of my mother’s dependents as if they were my own children. They weren’t hearing me.”
She said she wished New York City would step up, like her mother did. Villella said of her mom:
“Besides being a loving mother, she was also a loyal, faithful civil servant who gave her life protecting the city. The city should in turn take care of her children.”
Widow of slain NYPD Det. Jason Rivera rips new Manhattan DA in eulogy to her husband
January 29, 2022
NEW YORK CITY – On Friday, New York City Det. Jason Rivera was laid to rest about a week after he was gunned down by a criminal thug in Manhattan’s Harlem district. Rivera’s widow, completely distraught over the murder of her husband, took the occasion to eviscerate newly-elected Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
In a tearful eulogy to her slain husband, Dominique Luzuriaga blasted Bragg after claiming the system has failed, the Washington Times reported.
“The system continues to fail us. We are not safe anymore, not even the members of the service,” she said during the funeral mass, held before a full congregation at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“I know you were tired of these laws, especially the ones from the new DA. I hope he’s watching you speak through me right now,” the young widow said, amid thunderous applause and a standing ovation from those sitting in the pews.
“I’m sure all of our blue family is tired too.”
“But I promise—we promise—that your death won’t be in vain,” she said.
Bragg, who was present at the service, assumed his post earlier this month. One of his first directives was to order his prosecutors to apply minimal prosecution standards for what he called “low-level” crimes.
For example, resisting arrest will no longer be prosecuted under Bragg, and he also reduced some felonies to misdemeanors, including for armed robbery.
After some in the city, including the new police commissioner, expressed outrage, Bragg tried to walk back the memo, saying people were getting the “wrong impression” about his policies, and said he understood why New Yorkers were concerned.
Bragg was one of a number of city officials who attended Rivera’s funeral, along with thousands of police officers from New York and the surrounding area, as well as out of state.
In a statement after the funeral, Bragg said he is “grieving and praying” for the two NYPD officers who lost their lives in the past week. Rivera’s partner, NYPD Wilbert Mora died from his wounds this past week.
“Violence against police officers will never be tolerated. My office will vigorously prosecute cases of violence against police and work to prevent senseless acts like this from ever happening again,” he said.
Bragg’s so-called lack of “tolerance” for violence against police officers didn’t transfer over to the Bronx.
The New York Daily News reported Friday that New York’s new mayor, Eric Adams was livid over the fact that a teen who shot another police officer last Friday was released on bond.
In that case, a so-called “up-and-coming rapper,” Camrin Williams, who uses the name C Blu is accused of shooting NYPD Off. Kaseem Penman in the Bronx last week. He was released on a $250,000 bond.
“New Yorkers should all be outraged that a repeat offender, accused of shooting at a police officer, is today walking free on bond because judges are precluded from even considering danger to the community, like every other state and our federal courts,” Adams said in a written statement.
“It is further proof that our current system is failing us.”
Adams’ statement came just a couple of hours after he had attended the funeral of Rivera in Manhattan. In that case, the suspect was sent where he belonged, having been shot to death by NYPD officers.
Since the deaths of Rivera and Mora in Harlem last week, Adams has argued that judges should be allowed to consider the level of danger a suspect poses to the community before they are released. He also pointed to Williams’ release as another example of lenient bail.
Williams’ attorney however has, as one might expect, a different version of the events, and claims that he never shot the police officer.
“My client didn’t shoot a police officer. He never pointed a gun. He never had a gun in his hand,” she said. “Police officers jumped on top of him and that’s how the gun went off and the bullet hit my client in the groin and went out through his thigh and grazed the leg of the police officer.”
Ah yes, the magic self-firing gun.
“My client is a victim as well as the police officer,” she said.
In addition to focusing on judges, Adams has also called for the city’s district attorneys to step up. While he didn’t criticize Bragg directly, he said that DAs need to do their part too,
At Rivera’s funeral, Bragg directed his criticisms toward the courts;
“Today of all days, with the city in mourning over the deaths of Detective First Grade Jason Rivera and Police Officer Wilbert Mora, we all must come together and agree that changes are needed,” he said.
“We cannot allow those who carry guns to walk free. We can pursue safety and justice at the same time, and we must, for the safety of us.”
For our original reporting on the shootings of Det. Rivera and Off. Mora, we invite you to:
🚨 OFFICERS DOWN: Please pray for the families of the two NYPD officers shot and killed in Harlem this evening. These two heroes were killed while responding to a domestic violence call, according to media reports.
— National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) (@GLFOP) January 22, 2022
The suspect in the deadly shooting, Leshawn McNeil, is a convicted felon who was on active probation at the time his mother called police to intervene in a domestic situation. McNeil’s probation stemmed from a felony drug conviction out of New York in 2003.
McNeil’s criminal history was not limited to the State of New York as he was arrested in 1998 in South Carolina for unlawful possession of a weapon. It is unknown what the weapon was that he was accused of possessing and the charges were later dismissed.
New York Chief of Detectives James Essig also noted that McNeil had been arrested in Pennsylvania for assaulting a police officer in 2002. Then in 2003, he was arrested twice in the same state, one of the arrests was a felony drug charge while the other was a misdemeanor.
Photo of gun used by man who shot two NYPD officers in Harlem tonight
The officer who died was only 22 years old 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/fBZxK7ujMQ
— TalkRadio 77 WABC (@77WABCradio) January 22, 2022
Now, according to the New York Post, we are learning that McNeil is not only a convicted felon, but he was also allegedly anti-government and anti-police.
McNeil, who had recently moved back to New York from Baltimore to care for a disabled brother, allegedly frequently argued with his mother over simple things, like lost house keys.
Domestic violence calls have always been among the most dangerous calls that police officers can respond to, both for the officers and the people they are trying to protect.
I am praying for the families of the NYPD officers shot and killed tonight, and for the city of New York. pic.twitter.com/b3cNExPGwo
— Rep. Val Demings (@RepValDemings) January 22, 2022
The police source reported that things between McNeil and his mother, Shirley Sourzes, came to a head on January 21st when she called 911 reporting that he had “problems.” At this point, it is unclear exactly what the “problems” were that Sourzes was reporting.
The Post was able to discover concerning social media posts that McNeil allegedly authored, including a music video which depicts two men pointing guns at a New York Police Officer. Another post alleged that McDonald’s meat source was humans as opposed to animals. The Post said:
“Stop eating stop eating McDonald’s you’re eating human children mainly people of color.”
This post seems to refer to the Moorish Sovereign Citizen ideology which errantly believes they are not subject to the laws of the United States.
Since they believe they are not subject to the laws, they are known for creating violent situations with law enforcement. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a very left leaning organization, has identified the Moorish Sovereign Citizens as an extremist hate group.
The shooting occurred after New York Police Officers Jason Rivera, Wilber Mora, and a third who has yet to be identified responded to Sourzes residence after she called for help.
Police reported when the officers arrived, they began speaking with Sourzes and the disabled son were in the living room while McNeil was concealed in a back bedroom.
The unidentified officer stayed with the mother while Officers Rivera and Mora walked down what was described as a narrow hallway to speak with McNeil. As officers walked down the hallway, McNeil allegedly jumped out of the bedroom and opened fire.
Officer Rivera was fatally wounded while Officer Mora went down, critically injured. The third officer shielded Sourzes from the gunfire as they fired their duty weapon.
Officer Mora is still fighting for his life in a Harlem hospital surrounding by family and friends. McNeil, who was shot once in the arm and head, is listed in critical condition also in a Harlem Hospital.
Police recovered a gun at the scene which they allege was used by McNeil to murder Officer Mora. The gun, which was reported stolen out of Baltimore in 2017, had a high-capacity magazine which was capable of holding dozens of rounds.
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