ALBANY — A stretch of the Southern State Parkway on Long Island will now honor the late hero NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, reported New York Daily News.
Gov. Cuomo announced Thursday he signed into law legislation naming a portion of the parkway after McDonald, who died in January.
NYPD Detective Steven McDonald Shot Three Times
McDonald was on foot patrol in 1986 when he encountered a group of teenagers that were suspected of having committed a robbery in Central Park. While he was questioning the teens, the suspect drew a handgun and shot him three times.
As a result, McDonald was struck in the neck, head and arm by the bullets. He was transported to Harlem’s Metropolitan Hospital for treatment, and not expected to live. After forty eight hours, his condition suddenly improved. However, the gunshot wound to his neck left him a quadriplegic. He even required a ventilator to be able to breathe.
Consequently, he spent the next 18 months in several hospitals and eventually returned home. In spite of his devastating injuries, he fostered an attitude of love, peace and forgiveness. Moreover, he reached out to the 15-year-old boy who shot him and extended this message of forgiveness. He had written letters to the young man who was sentenced to prison for ten years on an attempted murder conviction.
Eventually, the suspect replied to the letters and a year or two later he called McDonald at his home and apologized to him; his wife, and son; for shooting him. Hence, the apology was accepted and again McDonald personally forgave him.
McDonald also expressed his desire to work together with the teen, promoting his message of love, peace and forgiveness; sharing how an act of violence changed both of their lives. But three days after the teen’s release from prison in late 1995, he was killed in a motorcycle accident ending McDonald’s hopes of working with him.
Despite his permanent injuries, Det. McDonald remained on active duty with the NYPD until his death earlier this year. Furthermore, he preached love, peace, good will and forgiveness to the officers he encountered. As a result, he was sought after as an inspirational and motivational speaker in many of the schools in New York.
His message of forgiveness as a goodwill ambassador did not stay in New York alone. He had met with Pope Paul II, Nelson Mandela and was interviewed by Barbara Walters. He even took his message of love, peace and forgiveness to war torn countries of Israel, Northern Ireland and Bosnia.
Leaving a Legacy
McDonald was the son of a NYPD officer, and his own son, Conor, followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the NYPD in 2010. He was promoted to the rank of detective sergeant and was issued his father’s gold detective shield.
“My dad was a real superman,” Sgt. Conor McDonald said during his father’s funeral ceremony. “My dad wanted to make sure his time on earth was not wasted and that is why he was so passionate in spreading God’s message of love and forgiveness.”
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill remembered McDonald for his impact he had in spreading his message everywhere he went.
“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.”
Loved by All
Former NYPD commissioners Ray Kelly and Bill Bratton were in attendance at his funeral, as were former mayors, Rudy Giuliani and David Dickins. McDonald’s influence also drew former ‘Late Show’ host David Letterman and former New York Ranger Adam Graves to the service.
“As both a member of New York City Police and an advocate for the disabled, Det. Steven McDonald demonstrated the bravery and compassion that exemplified the very best of New York,” Cuomo said. “This honor will help ensure that his sacrifice, service and advocacy will never be forgotten.”
The new law designates a portion of the highway beginning at the interchange of the Belt Parkway and Cross Island Parkway and ending at Exit 22, in Nassau County, as the “Detective Steven McDonald Memorial Highway.”
“Det. Steven McDonald embodied strength, resiliency, and forgiveness in the face of adversity, and he led an extraordinary life serving others,” said state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County).
Flanagan sponsored the bill along with Assemblyman Brian Curran (R-Nassau County).
“Local residents will be reminded of his service every day when they drive this stretch of highway bearing his name,” Curran said. “We are proud of Detective McDonald and we thank his family for their sacrifice.”