Steven McDonald Forgave Through the Pain -- De Blasio

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Steven McDonald. Photo: ABC7 Chicago

Detective Steven McDonald died on January 10, 2017 at the age of 59. He was shot and paralyzed on July 12, 1986 while an NYPD officer who was investigating reports of a robbery in Central Park. Shavod Jones, who was 15, was later convicted for the shooting. Several months after the shooting McDonald announced that he had forgiven Jones who later served nine years for the shooting. Jones called McDonald and apologized after he was released. He died September 9. 1995 only 3 days after his release in a motorcycle accident.

The following is a transcript of Mayor de Blasio's remarks at McDonald's funeral today.

Thank you, Monsignor Romano.

Your Eminence, thank you so much for opening up this greatest of churches for this is the fitting place for the services for a man as great as Detective Steven McDonald. We thank you for your warmth and all you do for us.

Today there is a unity in our city, a unity of sorrow at the passing of this great man, but also a unity of celebration of a man who was with us on this Earth who had lived a life so well. Here among us, a living example – everything that we aspire to be as a people and a city embodied in one man, Steven McDonald. We feel pain, and we feel joy that we knew him. We learn from him. We learn the right way to live from him. Directly, he touched thousands of lives – tens of thousands – but in a greater way millions were moved by his example because he became the greatest embodiment of what it means to be a member of the NYPD. He was synonymous with all that is great about our Police Department and our city. And he showed that the work of policing was profoundly based on love and compassion for your fellow man and woman, and he lived it every day.

I offer not only my own condolences but the condolences of eight-and-a-half million New Yorkers to Steven’s extraordinary family. Patti, on behalf of all New Yorkers, I thank you for having stood by him every step of the way, for having been all that anyone could ask for in a partner in life, for allowing him to be the extraordinary voice and example he was for us all.

Conor, I thank you for living out the legacy, for now continuing his great work, and for expressing his faith in everything you do.

And to his father, David, thank you for having raised this great man, for all the lessons you taught him that then were taught to all of us.

To all his family, to all his friends – our condolences and our solidarity.

And to the family of the NYPD, I know everyone feels that they’ve lost a part of themselves today, but I know you also feel strengthened that Steven McDonald lived among us and taught us so well.

Scripture says so much, but there are two clear commandments to us all that are so very, very hard to live out in this world we inhabit. One so simple – love the Lord. And the other we hear so often – love your neighbor as yourself. They sound simple, and we know they are profoundly complex, particularly given the challenges of the modern world. But we all watched, brothers and sisters, we all watched Steven McDonald live out these commandments. He lived them perfectly. He lived them completely. It was not easy. Imagine if all that your body had been able to do was taken from you. Imagine how easy it would be to fall into self-pity, to lose any sense of hope or energy, to simply recede from everyone around you.

But Steven McDonald was a hero – a hero who overcame all the pain, all the discomfort, all the challenges every day, every hour because he had a sense of mission that he was supposed to live out those commandments, he was supposed to show us all it could be done.

And then he went and did it every day against all the odds for 30 long years. A true hero in every sense and a hero even before because he chose to put on the uniform and put his life in harm’s way as his father had before him, as his grandfather had done before him, as his son does now.

His speech – left halting. His message – clear as a bell. The clarion call – something calling us to a place higher than we imagine we could reach.

That message from the gospel governed his life – a message centuries and centuries old that he made fresh and real for us all.

We need to remember what can be done, and I cherish the last conversation I had with Steven McDonald last year because it was a reminder that we all could go farther – his encouragement, his love for the men and women of the NYPD, his belief that we could heal the wounds of the past, his own living example of forgiveness. When I heard his words, it filled me with hope.

Last Saturday, at the hospital, I stood and held hands with Steven’s family – a family so filled with faith, with belief, with love. Their strength – so inspiring. We prayed together and I could feel what had sustained him, and this family deserves not only our support for all the years ahead, they deserve our thanks. Steven didn’t do this alone. The faith came from his family and the family sustained his extraordinary work and commitment.

Finally, I want to speak to you, Conor. We’ve had several chances these last days to speak and I want to speak to you as a father because, first of all, you made your father so very proud by continuing this extraordinary family legacy. But by doing it the way he would have done it – with love, with compassion.

It may feel very, very difficult to go on without him and it will feel, sometimes, very difficult to live up to his example, no doubt, but you’ve already been given that great gift of his example, his love. He’s watching over you. And I know that the NYPD will continue to feel the faith, the vision of your great father through your great work.

Steven McDonald’s road on this Earth was not easy but he showed us what we needed to know. And now we have an obligation to tell his story over and over again here in this city and all across this nation especially at this time.

We need more healing. We need more love. We need more understanding, and who better to keep teaching us than Detective Steven McDonald. May he rest in peace and God bless you all.


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