Hero NYPD cop Steven McDonald — who famously forgave the cowardly teenage gunman who left him paralyzed from the neck down 30 years ago — died Tuesday at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, Long Island. He was 59.
McDonald had been on life support since mucus clogged his respirator, sending him into cardiac arrest, on Friday.
Family members and fellow cops, including former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, kept vigil by his side.
After being removed from life support, McDonald was declared dead at 1:09 p.m., sources said.
Hundreds of uniformed cops lined up outside the hospital and saluted as McDonald’s body was wheeled out of the hospital — followed by his family and friends — and driven away in a procession of police vehicles to await burial.
“Steven was an exceptional human being who should not be defined by the shooting that paralyzed him, but by what he accomplished in life after it happened,” said Michael Palladino, president of the NYPD detectives union.
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association chief Pat Lynch called McDonald “the most courageous and forgiving man I have ever known.”
“Despite the tremendous pain in his life, both physical and emotional, his concern for his fellow police officers and for the people of New York City never wavered,” Lynch said.
“He was a powerful force for all that is good and is an inspiration to all of us….He was a true American hero.”