BY SCOTT SHIFREL DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER May 2, 2006—Officer David Gonzalez had dreamed of being a cop since he was a boy.
But on Nov. 12, 1999, a suspect grabbed his gun and shot him in the leg, shattering both bones and dreams as the slug split into 25 pieces of lead that will remain with him the rest of his life.
"I have to deal with constant pain every day," Gonzalez, 32, told the Daily News last week. "And the doctors say it will get worse as I get older."
He can no longer swim, hike, run or do many of the things he loves. It is painful to walk or sit for a long period. Just bending down to pick up his newborn boy hurts.
But he had the satisfaction last week of seeing William Hodges - nearly set free by controversial Queens Supreme Court Justice Laura Blackburne in 2002 - sentenced to 25 years for the shooting.
And he is once again a cop.
"I always just wanted to make a difference and help people," said Gonzalez, an only child.
"Getting shot was something my mother always feared from the beginning and I wanted to tell her myself," Gonzalez added.
"I called and told her I was hurt at work. The first thing out of her mouth was 'Oh my God you got shot.'"
The bullet, fired from his own 9-mm. Glock, ripped through his right hip, went through his femur and out his buttocks. It missed a major artery by less than an inch. It took months of rehab and determination born from his boyhood dream to make it back.
"I wanted to catch bad guys," he said. "[Rehab] was a lot of work, it was painful, but I was young and the doctors said that helped.
"I wanted to show I was better than him," he added. "I didn't want to let this defeat me. I wasn't going to feel sorry for myself. I wanted to get back on my feet. That's what I was shooting for."
After about four months, Gonzalez made it back to the 113th Precinct in Jamaica, Queens.
"The 113 was a good place to work because the police officers were very tight, a large family," he said.
He was later promoted to detective and assigned to the city's intelligence unit.
Many of Gonzalez's current and former police colleagues cheered after Hodges' sentencing, though the new father kept his cool with a quiet smile.
"I consider myself lucky to still be alive," he said. "I'm happy I have a family. I just consider myself an average guy. ... I don't see any reason to gloat. It was all about right and wrong in the end. And finally having my day in court."