January 10, 2017, 11:06 PM
BY THOMAS TRACY
|Patti McDonald, the late Det. Stephen McDonald and Conor McDonald pose for a photo in September. (THOMAS TRACY/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)|
When they were the head of the NYPD, Det. Steven McDonald was its soul.
Former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton mourned McDonald’s passing Tuesday, calling the cop, who used a wheelchair, a “truly singular individual” who “exemplified everything that the NYPD strives to be.”
“He was a role model for all of us,” said Bratton, who prayed at McDonald’s bedside on Saturday morning.
Bratton, his wife Rikki Klieman, McDonald’s widow Patti-Ann and son Conor held hands as they prayed, he remembered.
“She was consoling people as much as she was being consoled,” he said of the 59-year-old’s wife during their visit. “That's how he lived and that's how she lived.”
McDonald was left paraplegic after he was shot in Central Park in 1986.
Bratton was astounded that, instead of retiring, McDonald dedicated his life to preaching tolerance, responsibility and forgiveness.
“After the shooting, he didn't give up on life when it looked like, in many respects, that life had given up on him,” Bratton told the Daily News. “Steven probably met every New York City police officer and addressed every precinct in the last 20 years. He attended every graduation. It was his desire to stay on the active duty rolls after the horrific injuries he suffered, and he truly stayed on duty.”
“I think he exemplified everything that the NYPD strives to be,” Bratton said. “(Cops) have a difficult job to do and they need to always remember that they have a responsibility to do it the right way. That was Steven's message: The job is too important to behave inappropriately.
|"He was a role model for all of us," former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said of McDonald. (ANTHONY DELMUNDO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)|
“If he could find it in his heart to forgive the awful transgression that happened to him in his life, police officers should be able to treat people like human beings no matter what circumstances they find themselves in, no matter what they are facing.”
Former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly also fondly remembered McDonald Tuesday.
“Steven McDonald is a living saint,” Kelly said. “It's not beyond the realm of possibility that the Catholic Church will recognize that.”
“Put together the pain and suffering that he suffered over the last 30 years and through it all, he has never wavered with his message of peace and forgiveness,” he said. “Understanding the countless people he’s inspired as he delivered this message all over the world with his deep and abiding faith immersed in Catholicism — it meets my criteria.”
|Ex-Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly called McDonald "a living saint." (JAMES KEIVOM/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)|
Kelly visited McDonald’s family at North Shore University Hospital shortly after the inspirational cop succumbed to a heart attack on Friday. Kelly visited again on Sunday, he said.
“It was a room full of people,” Kelly told The News. “There were a lot of tears. Patti was engaged in consoling people and reassuring them that Steven was going to the right place.”
“The suffering he went through we can't properly empathize with,” Kelly continued. “I remember when he was shot. We all thought he was going to die within hours. He was shot in the head.
“But now the pain and suffering are over … and that's a good thing.”