Mourners Bid Farewell to Man Shot by Police as He Escaped Armed Robbers
INWOOD — Mourners at a memorial service Tuesday for Reynaldo Cuevas confronted a cruel irony.
Before he was fatally shot by a police officer as he fled armed robbers last week, he had been working late at a Bronx bodega to buy a ticket to visit his three-year-old daughter in the Dominican Republic.
This week, he will return to that country to be buried.
Adding to the tragedy, he will be laid beside his father, Maleno Cuevas, who was also killed by gunfire — in his case, by robbers in the Dominican Republic.
“Two years ago I just lost my father by a gun,” Joel Cuevas, one of Cuevas' two older brothers, said outside the memorial service. “And now I just lose my little brother, too, by a gun. That’s something that isn’t imaginable.”
Inside, Ana Cuevas wept into a relative’s shoulder before the open casket where Cuevas, 20, her son, lay in a black suit. His girlfriend attended the service, as did his two older brothers, who both traveled back from the Dominican Republic after the shooting, relatives said.
Cuevas died last week after he fled armed robbers in his uncle’s Morrisania bodega, but collided with a responding police officer whose gun accidentally fired into Cuevas’ shoulder, cops said.
On Tuesday, relatives continued to question the police account of the incident and demand an investigation.
“The way he died was unjust,” said Joel, 26. “We want justice for the cop that killed my little brother.”
In a meeting with Cuevas’ family Sunday, the Bronx district attorney pledged to investigate the shooting and, if warranted, to convene a grand jury, according to Sanford Rubenstein, the family’s attorney.
“The family wants a grand jury empaneled so that people from the Bronx will make a determination with regard to criminality — not the Police Commissioner,” Rubenstein said Tuesday.
Many mourners wore t-shirts and badges printed with photographs of Cuevas to the memorial service Tuesday at Ortiz Funeral Home near West 190th St. in Manhattan.
They shared memories of a hardworking, level-headed youngster who kept out of trouble and planned to joined the military like his younger sister, Nicole.
“All he did was work, then go home and spend time with his family,” said Massiel Cuevas, 15, Cuevas' cousin.
Others said they had yet to accept that Cuevas was truly gone.
“I don’t believe it,” said Evellis Rodriguez, 24, who knew Cuevas since she was a child. “I still believe he’s going to get up from that coffin and walk with us.”