For better or worse, talk of NYPD detective James Zadroga's death continues to linger. For the past two weeks, the family of Zadroga, who worked hours of rescue and recovery at the pit after the September 11 attacks, and the city's medical examiner's office have been disagreeing about Zadroga's cause of death. Now Mayor Bloomberg has stepped into the fray, discrediting Zadroga's hero status.

Two medical experts have supported the family's believe that Zadroga's death was directly due to the toxic World Trade Center dust he breathed in, whereas the NYC ME believes that Zadroga died because he abused prescription drugs (painkillers to ease his illness' effects). Mayor Bloomberg, accepting the Harvard School of Public Health's Julius B. Richmond Award for using the NYC Health Department to improve the health of New Yorkers, backed up chief medical examiner Dr. Charles Hirsch, saying, "Our chief medical examiner believes that the deceased was using some of his drugs in a manner for recreational drugs...Nobody wanted to hear that. We wanted to have a hero. There are plenty of heroes. It's just in this case, the science says this was not a hero." And we know how Bloomberg feels about science!

Zadroga's father Joseph asked the Daily News, "Why is he trying to malign my son and deny that Jimmy is a hero." And former NYPD detective and Zadroga friend Gerard Gansel told the Post, "It's sickening. The mayor never backs the Police Department... it's very disturbing." Zadroga's parents' lawyer said he wished "Mayor Bloomberg had taken the time to do a little research to see what prescription medication Mr. Zadroga had received."

Joseph Zadroga added, "For him [Bloomberg] to say that about my son is totally disgraceful. I would like to meet him ... and have him say that to Jimmy's 6-year-old daughter's face." Zadroga's daughter Tyler Ann is orphaned; her mother died during her father's illness and she is being raised by her grandparents.