February 5, 2004
Family, friends and fellow officers gathered in Lower Manhattan Thursday for the funeral of a police sergeant who collapsed and died while chasing a suspect last weekend.
“He’s a loss to the city,” said Edward Mullins of the Sergeants Benevolent Association. “He’s a loss to the department. He’s a loss to me as a friend and everybody here is feeling it. Of course it’s unexplainable. It’s a shock.”
Thousands of uniformed police officers honored Keith Ferguson, a 17-veteran of the NYPD, with a procession down Second Avenue from the Andrett Funeral Home on 21st Street to St. Andrew’s Church, in front of One Police Plaza. There was also a police helicopter flyover.
“We’re an extended family here, and it’s like losing your own brother,” said Harriet Stevenson, an officer, like Ferguson, in the Emergency Services Unit. “It’s tough. But we’re a family; we’re all here together to support one another.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly spoke at the funeral mass.
“He was a terrific young man,” Kelly said at the wake Wednesday night. “He was in great shape. He loved his job. He wanted to be in Emergency Services, which, as many people know, when the police need help, they call for Emergency Services. They are our highest-trained group of officers.”
The seemingly healthy 38-year-old officer suffered an apparent heart attack in SoHo on Saturday while joining other officers in pursuit of a vendor suspected of selling counterfeit sunglasses.
He was in excellent physical condition and did not have any known health problems, according to police officials. The medical examiner is still trying to determine the exact cause of death.
Ferguson, who had been assigned to a Hercules Team, one of the NYPD’s elite counterterrorism units, had not even called out sick in the past decade, officials said.
“It’s not always dramatic incidents that happen,” said Pat Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. “It’s just the danger of going after the perps out in the street. It could be a heart attack or car accidents. We deal with all the same issues that society deals with, but with an added danger.”
He is the first NYPD officer to die in the line of duty since two detectives were shot during an undercover operation on Staten Island last March.