Covington officer shot in head back on respirator as precaution

NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. — A Covington police officer shot in the head by a shoplifting suspect is making progress.

Covington police said Wednesday morning that Officer Matt Cooper, 34, was off a respirator for a few days and did well, but has now been placed back on the respirator as a precaution.

"He's responding to questions by the squeeze of a hand and even waved to his nurse as she left the room! Matt is continuing to fight and his progress, though slow, is impressive," Covington police said in a post on their Facebook page.

"Officer Cooper still has a very long way to go so please continue your positive thoughts and prayers. Matt’s condition remains serious," the department added.

[READ: 'Let's all be 148 strong' Wife of officer shot on duty thankful for the support]

Police said Aaron Fleming shot Cooper then killed himself after a shoplifting call near a Walmart on Sept. 3.

Cooper remains in ICU at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

"The family is encouraged; the doctors are encouraged every day with his progress. Just please continue to remember him every day,” Capt. Ken Malcolm said.

Police say Cooper's recovery could take months.


Channel 2's Rikki Klaus learned the bullet hit Cooper between the eyes, and the blood traveled to his carotid artery, and then clotted.

A police spokesperson said the trajectory of the bullet likely saved Cooper's life.

A local vascular surgeon with specific interest in the carotid artery told Channel 2 Action News it was encouraging Cooper was stabilized.

"We don’t generally go after bullets just to prevent any other problem," said Dr. Patrick Battey, CEO of Piedmont Atlanta.

Battey said that is why he believes Cooper's doctors were not initially in a rush to remove the bullet lodged into his artery.

[PHOTOS: Pictures of shooting victim Officer Matt Cooper]

Channel 2's Aaron Diamant sat down one-on-one with Covington Police Chief Stacey Cotton shortly after the shooting, who said the department was holding up as best they could and praying for Cooper.

“It’s a tough time for the family right now. They’re obviously worried. I think they’re very hopeful, because Matt, you know, seems to be stable at the time with serious injuries. I’m sure they’re pretty tired. This is a very emotional time, very physical rollercoaster to go through," she said.