McDonaldwebsite_1484077228169_2524974_ver1.0_640_360Steven McDonald, the NYPD detective best known for forgiving a teenage gunman who left him paralyzed in 1986, suffered a heart attack and died this year on January 10th. He was a hero who never gave into self-pity or resentment. Instead, he lived a fulfilling life with joy despite his disability. McDonald, 59 was 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 thieves, Shavod “Buddha” Jones and two other teenagers in Central Park. When he moved to frisk one of them, 15-year-old Jones, shot McDonald three times, with one bullet piercing the officer’s spinal column.

The other cops who were on the case remember being heartbroken and angry and wanted justice on behalf of their fellow cop and friend. They recalled that Steve McDonald surprised them – twice! “From day one, we never thought Steven was going to survive,” said one of the detectives. “The miracle of the whole thing was that Steven pulled through, and then when he was able to finally speak, the first thing Steven McDonald said was, “ I forgive him.”

His wife Patti Ann was pregnant at the time with their son Conor. About six months later, McDonald made a public statement that defined the rest of his life: “I forgive him and hope he can find peace and purpose in his life.

“Forgiveness grows understanding and tolerance,” he said. “Had I sought revenge, I would be a dead man already.”

Jones, the teenager who shot McDonald was sentenced to 10 years in prison. McDonald spoke of his hope that the pair would go on speaking tours together after he was released, to offer a mutual message of peace. But shortly after Jones’ release from prison in 1995, he died in a motorcycle accident.

“We all learned about the right way to live from Steve. We are better cops and better people because of his brave and loving example,” says Joe Link, 2nd Vice President of the SCPBA. McDonald was quoted saying

“what I’ve learned about life and my relationship with God is that it all comes together for good.”

After his injury, McDonald was promoted to  detective and continued to work for the department until his death.

In the years following the shooting, he met with Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela and was interviewed by Barbara Walters. He also took his message of forgiveness to Israel, Northern Ireland and Bosnia.

President SCPBA, Noel DiGerolamo concludes, “we remember Detective Steven McDonald and his family with the deepest respect and admiration. He will never be forgotten and will always be held up as the shining example of who we are called to be, as officers and people.”