An off-duty cop has been permanently paralyzed from the waist down after being shot “dead center in the back” while helping to break up a bar fight in crime-ridden Chicago, according to prosecutors and his family.
Officer Daniel Golden, an Army veteran from a family of cops and firefighters, was hit when at least 19 shots were fired as he walked away from the brawl he’d helped end early Saturday.
The off-duty cop had not been involved in the initial fight — and even helped protect the man accused of then grabbing a gun and shooting him, prosecutors told a Tuesday court hearing, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“This devastating, life-altering event has forever changed the course of his life,” Golden’s aunt Eileen Gorman wrote in an online fundraiser that had collected more than $775,000 in less than a day.
She said he was “out with friends and family” when “he did what all good cops would do and tried to break up a fight.”
“The event was over when one of the offenders ran to his car, pulled a gun out, and fired 20 rounds at the group as they walked away,” she wrote.
One of the bullets grazed the leg of one of the cop’s brothers. “Sadly, another bullet struck Dan in the back and severed Dan’s spinal cord, missing his heart by millimeters, resulting in him being permanently paralyzed from the waist down,” she wrote.
Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy told the court hearing that one of the bullets hit Golden “dead center in the back,” lodging close to his heart. Doctors have decided not to remove it for now, the Sun-Times said.
Golden’s fiancee, Casey Szaflarski, told CBS Chicago that her beau had “saved lives” with the actions that left him paralyzed — less than a year after one of his colleagues was shot dead and another also paralyzed.
“If he wasn’t there, who knows what would have happened,” she said.
“It just sucks that this happened to someone this good … but we still have him here, and that’s all that matters,” she said of her fiancé, who turned 32 while in a hospital bed.
His fundraiser called him the perfect example of “what service looks like.”
“He’s the son of a [Chicago Police Department] Detective and an ER nurse, the second of seven children, and honorably served as a soldier in the United States Army” before joining the force’s Gang Unit.
“Four of his brothers served in the United States Army Infantry, from Afghanistan to Africa, Alaska, and Eastern Europe. His youngest brother enlisted in the US Army and is set to leave this summer. Three of his brothers also protect this city as Chicago Firefighters,” the fundraiser noted.
Police confirmed Tuesday that three men had been arrested, including accused shooter Bryant Hayes, 22, who faces a slew of charges, including attempted murder.
Justen Krismantis, also 22, allegedly handed the gun to Hayes and faces the same charges. Demetrius Harrell, 28, is charged with taking the gun from Hayes and firing it down the street toward Golden and others.
Chicago has seen soaring gun crime, with cops regular targets — sparking protests against woke Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whom many blame for crippling the force with reforms.
In August last year, Ella French, 29, was shot dead and her partner Carlos Yanez Jr. paralyzed during a traffic stop.
At the time, Chicago police officers turned their backs on Lightfoot when she visited Yanez Jr. — who made it clear he’d never wanted the progressive reformer to visit him in the hospital.
His dad, former cop Carlos Yanez Sr., told the Chicago Sun-Times that he twice told the mayor’s office staff that his son was “not a fan of Lori Lightfoot, to put it mildly” and that the family did not want her at the hospital where he was taken the night of the shooting.
“I said that the actions by her administration and her rhetoric of saying how police need to be reconditioned or retrained or whatever was causing them to be in danger,” the dad said at the time.
Since then, numerous other officers as well as young children have been struck in the crime-ridden city.
This month, Fox News analyst Gianno Caldwell — whose 18-year-old brother was gunned down in the city last month — blamed the mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Chicago suburb Highland Park on “soft-on-crime” policies gone awry.
“The ‘defund the police’ mantra has become like a disease that’s spreading from the inner cities to suburbs everywhere,” Caldwell told The Post.
Criminals “don’t fear” cops because officers “are handicapped from doing their jobs,” he said.