A street bisecting Central Park has been named for Steven McDonald, the paralyzed NYPD detective who forgave the teenager who shot him in the park three decades earlier.
McDonald, who died in January of a heart attack connected to injuries suffered in the shooting all those years ago, was honored Wednesday less than 25 blocks south of where he was shot.
“Nineteen eighty-six does not seem so long ago, yet when I look around this beautiful city I realize how far along we all have come,” said his widow, Patricia McDonald, recalling a very different city in the mid-1980s, one plagued with crime and violence.
The 86th Street Transverse connecting Manhattan’s west and east sides now also bears the name “Detective First Grade Steven D. McDonald,” on a blue sign that was unveiled by Patricia McDonald and son, Conor, an NYPD sergeant.
Following the shooting, Steven McDonald became an inspirational speaker within the NYPD and beyond, telling his story of forgiveness, recovery and hope.
“We all know that Steven’s journey was not an easy one. It was a challenge, and there was pain every step along the way, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen anyone handle the challenge better,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the ceremony.
McDonald, who was later was promoted to detective, became the 14th city cop shot that violent year, according to the The New York Times.
McDonald, 59, died Jan. 10, 2017, about 31 years after he was shot in the park three times by a 15-year-old who had been suspected of stealing bicycles. The wounds from the teen’s .22-caliber revolver left McDonald a quadriplegic and in need of a ventilator.
His death was later classified by the NYPD as a homicide, which is often done in cases where crime victims die as a result of assaults and shootings that take a toll later in life, a police spokesman said in January.
The teen, Shavod Jones, spent eight years in prison before his parole in 1995. The next week, Jones died from head injuries he sustained in a crash while performing wheelies on a motorcycle in East Harlem.
“Steven was so proud to be a member of this department,” his widow said through tears, recalling that his grandfather, father and uncle were cops. “There was no other place Steven wanted to be. When he put on that blue uniform and shield, you could see that this was his calling from God.”
Soon after delivering those remarks — which roused the audience of friends, police colleagues and family to their feet — McDonald’s widow and son pulled a string, unveiling the blue sign memorializing a man who loved the park and the people who enjoy it.
Conor McDonald choked up as he held a duplicate street sign after the ceremony, which began with a chaplain’s moment of silence for the Las Vegas shootings.
“It’s a very tough time right now in this country, and I wish my father would stay alive for a very long time, so he could travel the world and people could hear his story,” he said “...because if I could tell you how much pain he went through — no one would want to go through that.”