Manhattan, NY – New York Police Officer Raymond Harris died in the line of duty on Aug. 4, following a lengthy battle with a devastating illness that developed following his service at the World Trade Center attacks on Sep. 11, 2001.
Officer Harris joined the New York Police Department (NYPD) on Oct. 15, 1990, and was assigned to the agency’s 77th Precinct, the department said in a Facebook post on Aug. 6.
“He quickly became a fixture, a leading figure, a voice of reason, and a source of great advice and knowledge,” the agency wrote. “If you had any question or any problem, Ray would be the first person most other officers would turn to.”
He was one of thousands of first responders who were “exposed to the toxic dust and debris that blanketed lower Manhattan and blew across the region” following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the post read.
In 2002, Officer Harris began suffering frequent upper respiratory problems and colds, his wife of 25 years, LaSharn Harris, told WPIX.
In 2009, he was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that primarily affects the lungs, but can also impact many other organs.
“Unfortunately for my husband, it spread through his body like cancer,” LaSharn explained.
“The effects of 9/11 would go on to ravage Ray's body in unimaginable ways but Ray fought this horrible disease for years, proclaiming to the world that he would fight until he won,” his precinct said.
Officer Harris’ heart was weakened by the disease, followed by his kidneys, his wife told WPIX.
Eventually, he was removed from transplant lists due to horrific toll the disease took on his body.
“He fought, and fought hard until the very end,” his department said. “His battle was an inspiration to his friends and former co-workers… Sadly, his body could fight no longer and we lost this gentle giant, a true gentleman, on August 4, 2019.”
LaSharn described the heartbreaking conversation she had with her husband that final day.
“He said to me that day, ‘I need to let go and I need my dignity,’ she told WPIX. “I had to make the hardest decision of my life, and I had to tell him he was ok.”
Officer Harris’ widow said that he was always the strongest member of their family.
“He was always a hero to us,” she said. “He was the glue that held our family together.”
In the wake of the terrorist attacks, Officer Harris never faltered in the belief that he was doing what needed to be done.
“He came home, and I knew he was never going to be the same,” LaSharn recalled during her interview with WPIX. “He was remarkable. He touched a lot of lives.”
The 77th Precinct said that Officer Harris’ memory will never fade.
“Police Officer Raymond G Harris will never be forgotten here in the 77th Precinct, his memory living on in the hearts and minds of every cop that had the pleasure of serving beside him,” the agency’s post read. “Rest easy, brother, we'll take it from here.”
In addition to his wife, Officer Harris also leaves behind two adult daughters, and his 12-year-old granddaughter, WPIX reported.
He was laid to rest on Saturday, according to a post on LaSharn’s Facebook page.
“Thank you all for your kind words,” she wrote in another post. “Raymond may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of New York Police Officer Raymond Harris, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.