NEW YORK – A slain NYPD officer who was a mother of three children, was a warrior for her family.
Officer Miosotis Familia of the New York Police Department was the youngest of nine brothers and sisters. It was a family dynamic that gave her an outspoken personality and a no-nonsense edge, said her nephew, John Cuello. Because of this, it made her a perfect fit for her job, reported The New York Times.
On Wednesday morning, Officer Familia, 48, died after she was shot in the head. Police say she was murdered by a man who fired a revolver into a parked police vehicle in the Bronx.
Alexander Bonds, 34, was identified as the gunman. He was fatally shot by police a short time later. Bonds was paroled four years ago after serving seven years in state prison.
Naturally, the killing of Officer Familia thrust the department into mourning and her family into grief.
“She would set anybody straight,” said Cuello. “I’ve seen a lot of her putting her siblings in their place. Holding her ground. Her attitude was, ‘I might be the youngest one, but I’m the toughest one.’” He recalled her encouraging her nieces and nephews, whenever they got into neighborhood scrapes, to confront their problems head on, and never hide.
She used that strength to raise her three children — a boy and girl who are twins, and a daughter who is in college, Cuello said. Familia also cared for her mother, who lived with her and the twins in their apartment in Kingsbridge Heights, about two miles north of where she was killed.
Familia became a police officer at age 36 after holding a number of different jobs. It was instantly a good fit, her nephew said.
“She was a warrior, tell you the truth,” Cuello said. “She was a fighter, she was tough — and that was the job for her.”
Milton Castro, 47, a professional photographer, grew up in Washington Heights with Familia, where she stood out among the other teenagers. Castro indicated she was louder, funnier, and bolder than others. “If we were in a circle in front of the junior high school, or in front of a building, she would be in the middle of everyone, making jokes, telling a story,” he said.
Castro described the challenges they faced growing up in Washington Heights. It was a time when the city was blanketed by a crack cocaine epidemic and high rates of crime that hit the streets of their youth particularly hard. “She was a survivor,” he said. “She was around all of that stuff like we all were as kids, and she came out of that wanting to help people and wanting to become a police officer. It’s a testament to who she was as a person.”
Miosotis Familia joined the force 12 years ago, most recently assigned to the 46th Precinct. She wore shield number 7370.
Since March, Familia was regularly assigned to a marked police van stationed on West 183rd Street, where a rash of shootings had erupted over the winter. She was there on Tuesday night and into early Wednesday morning. And sadly, she was sitting inside the vehicle with her partner, Officer Vincent Maher, when she was killed.
Familia exuded toughness. She never expressed reservations about the dangers of being a police officer, or anxiety about the recent attacks against the police. As a result, her family followed her lead. They rarely feared for her, her nephew said. They felt confident in her ability to take care of herself.
“She would say, ‘There was nothing easy about it,’” Cuello said. “But she loved what she did.”
Relatives indicated that her children were her primary focus. “Being pregnant with twins — it must have been miserable, but she was so happy,” said Claudia Collazo, whose sister had been married to one of Familia’s brothers for nearly three decades. “Her smile was as big as her heart.”
Her red brick apartment complex on Sedgwick Avenue is not far from where she was shot. On Wednesday, uniformed police officers stood sentry outside as people arrived, some sobbing, reaching to clasp the officers’ hands, according to the Times.
Inside the apartment, her mother and all but one of her siblings had gathered to mourn her, said a family friend, Ramona Román, 56. The last, a brother, was flying in from the Dominican Republic, where the family is from, she said. In the officer’s home, Román said as she left, no one spoke a word of the man who killed her.
Yet out on Sedgwick Avenue, neighbors discussed her death in heated tones. Familia appeared to have been circumspect about her profession. She did not wear her uniform around the neighborhood, said Rafael Mercedes, 49. He had not known she was an officer until he learned of the shooting. “She was a very loved woman in the neighborhood,” he said. “Everyone loved her.”
The 46th Precinct posted about the loss on its Twitter account. “We welcome prayers for our beloved sister. Thanks for your support in our time of need.”
On Wednesday afternoon, they mayor ordered flags on city buildings to be flown at half-staff in Familia’s honor.
(Photo courtesy NYPD)