Paralyzed NYPD Detective Who Forgave Shooter Remembered as Hero

FILE - In this March 15, 2015 file photo, New York City Detective Steven McDonald, his wife Patti, and son, Conor, smile after receiving the Spirit of Giving Award at the Kelly Cares Foundation's 5th Annual Irish Eyes Gala held at the JW Marriot Essex House in New York. McDonald, …
AP / Stuart Ramson

A sea of blue, family and friends gathered in a funeral mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral Friday morning to bid a final farewell to an iconic hero NYPD Detective Steven McDonald.

“My dad was a real superman,” Sgt. Conor McDonald, the son of McDonald, who followed in his father’s footsteps, said during the funeral ceremony. “My dad wanted to make sure his time on earth was not wasted ant that is why he was so passionate in spreading God’s message of love and forgiveness.”

In July of 1986, McDonald was working as an undercover cop in Central Park, where he stopped to question three suspicious boys. During the stop, one of the boys, Shavod Jones pulled out a .22-caliber and shot McDonald three times. One of the bullets hit McDonald in his neck, piercing through his spinal cord and ultimately paralyzing him. 

McDonald was left quadriplegic, unable to breathe on his own, and would depend on a ventilator to breathe for the rest of his life. According to doctors, McDonald was given less than five years to live, but overcame all odds and survived for 30 years.

Eight months after the shooting, McDonald publicly forgave Jones during his son Conor’s christening.

“I feel sorry for him,” McDonald said. “I forgive him, and hope that he can find peace and purpose in his life.”

Remaining an active member in the NYPD, McDonald would spend the next 30 years speaking and mentoring young NYPD officers during roll call, attending every brother and sister-in-blue’s graduation ceremony and funeral. He also would became one of the world’s foremost pilgrims, spreading his message of “Faith and Forgiveness” to Israel, Ireland and Bosnia.

McDonald suffered a heart attack last Friday and was taken off life support Tuesday afternoon. 

NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill remembered McDonald for his impact he had in spreading his message across the world. 

“Steven is a life that underscores why people want to become police officers,” O’Neill said. “Despite using a ventilator, Steven’s voice was always strong, just like his message.”

O’Neill added, “Steven was one of the most remarkable men I ever met and one of the most fearless cops to ever die in a uniform. He helped redefine what a hero is in the NYPD.”

Also in attendance were former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and Bill Bratton, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and David Dickins. Notable celebrities such as former ‘Late Show’ host David Letterman and former New York Ranger Adam Graves were also among those who attended the hero cop funeral.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan began the mass, remembering the life of McDonald. “We are here as an act of faith,” Dolan said. “We are here to pray that Steven is now enjoying eternal life as he believed and to thank God for Steven’s splendid life of service.”

President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter to praise McDonald, calling him a “real NYC hero.”