Paralyzed detective who forgave shooter eulogized as hero

New York City Police Dept. Sgt. Conor McDonald, center, and Patricia McDonald, third left, the son and widow of NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, follow his casket as it leaves St. Patrick's Cathedral after his funeral, in New York, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. McDonald died on Tuesday, 30 years after a robbery suspect shot him in Central Park. The officer publicly forgave his assailant and went on to become an international voice for peace. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
NYPD Detective Steven McDonald's casket departs St. Patrick's Cathedral following his funeral, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in New York. McDonald died on Tuesday, 30 years after a robbery suspect shot him in Central Park. The officer publicly forgave his assailant and went on to become an international voice for peace. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Patricia McDonald, center, and New York City Police Dept. Sgt. Conor McDonald, right, the widow and son of NYPD Det. Steven McDonald, embrace former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly outside St. Patrick's Cathedral, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in New York. The New York City police officer was known for publicly forgiving a teenage gunman who in 1986 left him paralyzed from the neck down. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Police officers fill New York's Fifth Avenue prior to the funeral for Steven McDonald at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. McDonald died on Tuesday, 30 years after a robbery suspect shot him in Central Park. The officer publicly forgave his assailant and went on to become an international voice for peace. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Patricia McDonald, the widow of NYPD Det. Steven McDonald, embraces the flag from his casket after his funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral, in New York, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. The New York City police officer was known for publicly forgiving a teenage gunman who in 1986 left him paralyzed from the neck down. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Patricia McDonald, center, and New York City Police Dept. Sgt. Conor McDonald, right, the widow and son of NYPD Det. Steven McDonald, leave his funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in New York. The New York City police officer was known for publicly forgiving a teenage gunman who in 1986 left him paralyzed from the neck down. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
FILE- In this Aug. 30, 2004 file photo, New York Police Officer Steven McDonald recites the Pledge of Allegiance before the morning session of the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden in New York. On Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, officials said McDonald, who was paralyzed by a bullet and became an international voice for peace after he publicly forgave the gunman, died at the age of 59. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
NYPD Detective Steven McDonald 's casket arrives at St. Patrick's Cathedral for his funeral, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in New York. McDonald died on Tuesday, 30 years after a robbery suspect shot him in Central Park. The officer publicly forgave his assailant and went on to become an international voice for peace. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
NYPD Detective Steven McDonald's casket is carried out of St. Patrick's Cathedral following his funeral, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in New York. McDonald died on Tuesday, 30 years after a robbery suspect shot him in Central Park. The officer publicly forgave his assailant and went on to become an international voice for peace. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
FILE - In this Oct. 30, 1986 file photo, NYPD Officer Steven McDonald, paralyzed after being shot in Central Park earlier in the year, receives a New York Mets baseball jacket from Mets' president Fred Wilpon, left, in McDonald's room in New York's Bellevue Hospital. They are jointed by then Mayor Ed Koch, second from left, and McDonald's wife Patti. McDonald, who was paralyzed by a bullet and became an international voice for peace after he publicly forgave the gunman, died Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 at the age of 59. (AP Photo/Mario Suriani, File)
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, second from left, his wife Chirlane McCray, left, NYPD Commissioner James P. O'Neill third from left, and former Police Commissioner William Bratton, fourth from left, stand at attention during the funeral service for New York City police officer Steven McDonald, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. McDonald died on Tuesday, 30 years after a robbery suspect shot him in Central Park. The officer publicly forgave his assailant and went on to become an international voice for peace. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Police officers salute as pallbearers carry the casket of New York City police officer Steven McDonald after his funeral service, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. McDonald died on Tuesday, 30 years after a robbery suspect shot him in Central Park. The officer publicly forgave his assailant and went on to become an international voice for peace. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK — Steven McDonald, a police officer best known for forgiving a teenage gunman who left him paralyzed in 1986, inspired New York City by choosing a spiritual journey over self-pity and spite, Mayor Bill de Blasio and others said Friday.

McDonald's "road on this earth was not easy but he showed us what we need to know," de Blasio told McDonald's widow, Patti Ann, police officer son and other mourners packed into St. Patrick's Cathedral for his funeral. "Now we have an obligation to tell his story across this city and all across his nation, especially at this time."

The officer was a role model at the New York Police Department, the nation's largest, Police Commissioner James O'Neill said in his eulogy.

"What we can learn from Steven's life is this: The cycle of violence that plagues so many lives today can be overcome only by breaking down the walls that separate people," O'Neill said. "The best tools for doing this, Steven taught us, are love, respect, and forgiveness."

McDonald, 59, who suffered a heart attack last week, died Tuesday at a Long Island hospital. He had remained on the NYPD's payroll as a detective until his death, but he was best known as an international voice for peace and a source of support for other wounded police officers.

McDonald was on patrol on July 12, 1986, when he spotted bicycle thief Shavod "Buddha" Jones and two other teenagers in Central Park. When he moved to frisk one of them, the 15-year-old Jones shot McDonald three times, with one bullet piercing the officer's spinal column and leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

About six months later, with McDonald still struggling to recover, he made a statement about Jones through his wife that defined the rest of his life: "I forgive him and hope he can find peace and purpose in his life."

His son, Conor — who is the same age his dad was when he was shot and now a fourth-generation officer — was interrupted by three ovations as he described his father as a "real Superman." He could count on his father to call him at 5 a.m. every day to check in before his son would go on patrol, he said.

"He was the greatest man I could ask to be my father," he said.

McDonald was also a die-hard hockey fan who gave powerful speeches at ceremonies for a New York Rangers award named in his honor, said former player Adam Graves.

"I want to make one thing clear: Steven McDonald meant more to the New York Rangers and our fans than we could ever mean to him," Graves said.

Pallbearers removed the officer's casket from St. Patrick's to the sound of church bells and the salutes of hundreds of uniformed officers. Eight police helicopters flying in formation also swooped in tribute over Fifth Avenue.

In the years following his shooting, McDonald met with Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela and sat for an interview with Barbara Walters. He also took his message of forgiveness to Israel, Northern Ireland and Bosnia.

After Jones was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempted murder, McDonald spoke of his hope that the pair would go on speaking tours together to offer a mutual message of peace. But shortly after Jones' release from prison in 1995, he died in a motorcycle accident.

People also read these

Andrus powers Rangers to 10-7 win at slumping...

Sep 7, 2016

Texas' Elvis Andrus had a homer and three doubles to lead the Rangers to a 10-7 win at slumping...

Hamlin finally wins a pole; will start first at...

Sep 10, 2016

Denny Hamlin has won the pole for Friday for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at...

Formula 1's debt-ridden Manor Racing go into...

Jan 6, 2017

The operating company of Manor Racing was placed in administration on Friday, putting in major...

Paralyzed detective who forgave shooter eulogized...

Jan 13, 2017

New York City's mayor says a police officer best known for forgiving a teenage gunman who left him...

IndyCar drivers eager to keep momentum as season...

Jan 18, 2017

IndyCar looks ahead with hope to another season and potential for growth

About Us

The World Insiders brings you exclusive coverage from across the globe in a timely, easy to consume format sourced directly from our regional media partners.

Contact us: sales[at]theworldinsiders.com

Subscribe Now!