The extended family of slain Brooklyn Detective Dillon Stewart continued a tradition Tuesday of honoring his ultimate sacrifice by working to save lives with a blood drive.
Stewart gave his life on Nov. 28, 2005 when he was shot and killed while chasing a suspect in East Flatbush. According to police sources, Stewart attempted to pull over a motorist for running a red light when, after catching up to the suspect, he was gunned down.
The bullet pierced the armhole gap in his vest, piercing his heart. Not realizing he had been hit, Stewart continued in pursuit of the shooter until he was overcome by his injuries.
Since his untimely death, the 70th Precinct, the stationhouse where Stewart had worked, has honored his memory with an annual blood drive in the slain cop’s name on the anniversary of his death, prompting fellow officers and the public alike to roll up their sleeves and give the gift of life.
“I remember the day that I got that phone call to come to the hospital, and I remember them letting us know that Dillon might not make it and walking into the room and seeing the doctors physically massaging his heart,” surviving spouse Leslyn Stewart recalled. “They [the doctors] talked to me about the amount of blood that they had to use to at least attempt to save his life, and it is in that spirit that I wanted to continue this work, encouraging people to get blood in the attempt of saving so many lives.”
Each year, the New York Blood Center brings its mobile donation van to the 70th Precinct stationhouse, where cops and private citizens alike line up to give blood in honor of Stewart.
The annual drive is a source of bittersweet pride for the entire Stewart family and the NYPD.
Eldest daughter Alexis recalled that she lost her father when she was just six years old, and misses her father while marking the many milestones of her life. However, she says she finds comfort with the NYPD, which stepped into the role of family.
“They show up to graduations, birthday parties, award ceremonies, whatever we need. They’re always there and they don’t ever hesitate. It’s overwhelming how amazing the NYPD has been for the last 18 years. It’s just an overwhelming sense of family,” Alexis said.
On Tuesday, 28 people donated blood, resulting in what the New York Blood Center says could save up to 84 lives. Since 2006, the annual blood drive resulted in hundreds of life-saving blood donations.