Officer Matt Cooper talks for 1st time about his recovery in emotional interview

ATLANTA — The Covington officer who was shot in the head responding to a shoplifting call on Labor Day is speaking for the first time exclusively with Channel 2 Action News.

Channel 2's Mark Winne sat down with Officer Matt Cooper and his wife, Kristen Cooper, at the Shepherd Center, where the officer is recovering from a brain injury.

Cooper told Winne that he is thankful for the support his family has received and that he draws his

strength from the important things.

“Our community, God, my wife, our kids and music," he said. "I feel very appreciative of all the donations and prayers, support from my community.

Kristen Cooper said the bullet hit her husband in the face as he chased after a shoplifter on Labor Day. She told Winne that she was not sure if he would survive.

“There was probably about five or six days where it was kind of, we didn’t really know. Once we got past that, then you kind of wonder about what his quality of life will be. With Matt being a very physical person, I wanted him to have a good life still," she said.

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Kristen Cooper said her husband continues to make progress in his recovery and he is beating early expectations with guidance from physical therapists.

“Matt is an incredibly hard worker. I think from the beginning of time here, no matter what obstacles he had in his way, he wanted to work,” said Amanda Hecht, a physical therapist with Shepherd Center.

The Coopers are thankful for prayers and financial donations that will help with expenses on his long

road back.

“This has been a horrible tragedy in our life, but tragedies don’t usually have happy endings,” Kristen Cooper said. “We still get to go home at some point, have a life. Our kids get to have their dad back.”

The community has rallied behind the officer in many ways. His story has touched many. A young boy dressed up as Cooper for Halloween. Channel 2 anchor Jovita Moore received a letter from a veteran serving time in prison, who wrote a poem in Cooper's honor.

Channel 2 was there in September when the high school Cooper graduated from honored him in a special ceremony when he was in the hospital.

BACKGROUND

Cooper was responding to a shoplifting call in Covington on Labor Day. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said three men were attempting to steal bandanas when officers responded to the scene.

A Covington police sergeant and Cooper chased one of the suspects Aaron Fleming across the street and behind another shopping center.

As the sergeant turned the corner, he said he saw Fleming shoot Cooper and then take off into the woods. The teen was later found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Cooper underwent emergency surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital and few weeks later transferred to the Shepherd Center.