CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (PIX11) — The only son of NYPD Detective Troy Patterson, who died this past weekend at age 60 after spending 33 years in a vegetative state, eulogized his father at a funeral in Brooklyn Friday.
“Dad, you touched so many lives, and I love you,” Troy Dante Patterson Jr. said during the service at Historic First Church of God in Christ on Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights. “I honor you. You’re my hero.”
The senior Patterson died in a New Jersey nursing facility, more than three decades after he was shot in the head by a 15-year-old robber who demanded $20. Patterson was off-duty and washing his car on Jefferson Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, when the teen shooter and two accomplices approached him. He suffered a catastrophic brain injury that left him in a vegetative state — and a wheelchair — for the rest of his life.
“I used to wonder, ‘Why can’t he walk? Why can’t he talk,'” the son recalled, his voice choked with emotion.
Troy Dante Patterson Jr. remembered seeing his dad laid up in a hospital bed, when he was just five, “with tubes everywhere, and I didn’t understand it.”
The son received a standing ovation when he thanked the NYPD for its unwavering support, including former police captain Mayor Eric Adams, who also paid tribute to Detective Patterson’s impressive record of service.
“Six years, and look at the number of medals he had,” the mayor noted. “He was an active police officer who wasn’t just ‘going through the motion’ of being in the law enforcement community.”
First Deputy Police Commissioner Edward Caban also saluted Patterson.
“He amassed over 150 arrests, many of them for illegal guns,” Caban noted. “Troy was not a person who did anything half way.”
Paul DiGiacomo, president of the Detective’s Endowment Association, had visited Patterson at the New Jersey facility on some of Patterson’s birthdays.
“I had the honor of being in the same academy class as Troy in 1983,” DiGiacomo said. “He was an active cop, taking criminals off the street, during a very dangerous time in our city.”
Patterson’s cousin, Anthony, was among the relatives who praised the late detective’s decision to become a cop, even though there was initial resistance from the family.
“When Troy decided to go to the police force, I thought he was crazy and lost his mind,” Anthony Patterson recalled. “He said he wanted to make a difference in his community. He wanted to police his own neighborhood.”
The mayor had noted Troy Patterson was policing during a chaotic time in New York City, when crack cocaine was ravaging poorer communities and the homicide rate approached 2,000 deaths a year.
Cliff Hollingsworth, co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement who Care, remembered telling the membership everyone in the department needed to remember Troy Patterson.
“We studied in the academy together, we carpooled together, we studied together,” Hollingsworth said. “Troy and I made a pact. To always be there for each other.”
Hollingsworth said he told his organization, “We have to honor this brother for the life he lived and the life he sacrificed for the City of New York.”
Numerous speakers paid homage to Patterson’s Aunt Mae, who took over the officer’s affairs when his mother, Katherine, died. And one cousin noted that Troy Patterson was a talented musician who played the trumpet and loved jazz.
Inspector Barbara Williams, an NYPD Chaplain who led the service, noted love was the overwhelming message in Det. Troy Patterson’s life and death.
“Through all of this we learned that love lasts,” Williams noted. “Even though Troy was not able to communicate the way he wanted, his love was real.”
When the service ended, there were moving moments to witness during the funeral recessional outside.
Troy Patterson’s youngest granddaughter wore his police hat. And his only son accepted a folded NYPD flag from the honor guard. Aunt Mae received a flag, as well.
And two members of the honor guard played taps on the trumpets that Troy Patterson loved.