• Officer Cooper continues to respond to doctors, gives thumbs up, police chief says

    By: Aaron Diamant

    Updated:

    NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. - The family of the Covington police officer who was shot near a Walmart on Monday says he is recovering after surgery.

    Matt Cooper, 34, underwent surgery to relieve some of the pressure and according to doctors, the surgery went well. 

    Channel 2 Action News first brought you this story on Monday afternoon. 

    On Tuesday night, Channel 2's Rikki Klaus learned the bullet hit officer Matt Cooper, 34, right 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. 

    Matt Cooper
    Matt Cooper
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    A local vascular surgeon with specific interest in the carotid artery told Channel 2 Action News it's encouraging Cooper is 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's why he believes Cooper's doctors weren't in a rush to remove the bullet lodged into his artery. 

    Battey spoke to Channel 2's Aaron Diamant, who has been following this story since it broke Monday.

    Covington Police Chief Stacey Cotton told Diamant, Cooper has been responding to doctors and gave them a thumbs up.

    On Tuesday, we learned he mouthed "I love you" to his wife.


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    Investigators said they were called out to a Walmart along Industrial Boulevard just before 12:30 p.m. on Monday for a shoplifting call. The GBI says three men were attempting to steal bandanas.

    Cooper was shot after he and a police sergeant chased one of the suspects across the street and behind another shopping center. The sergeant said he came around the corner and saw Aaron Fleming, 21, shoot Cooper. Fleming was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in nearby woods, the GBI said.

    [PHOTOS: Pictures of shooting victim Officer Matt Cooper]

    Since the shooting, there has been an outpouring of support for Cooper both nationally and from the local community.

    Diamont also obtained the two-page police report Wednesday.

    It recounts the tense situation at the Walmart.

    “No, this is not easy, but we want to be able to give them all the available resources that we have to just make it a little bit easier to deal with this really tragic situation," said GBI spokesperson Nelly Miles.

    The GBI has interviewed two other juvenile suspects, who surrendered to police before the shooting, and released them to their parents. 

    “We do expect charges and so that’s something that we’re working in coordination with the prosecutor on," Miles said.

    Miles told Diamant the GBI has found no evidence any Covington officer fired a shot.

    With no witnesses to the shooting itself, GBI agents are in the process of reviewing critical bodycam video. 

    “Just like interviewing witnesses that were there prior to the actual shooting and looking at the video, results from autopsy, these are all key factors for what’s going to determine where we go with the investigation," Miles said.

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