NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Covington Officer Matt Cooper and his wife Kristen Cooper publicly thanked the first responders who saved him, the officers from around the country who supported his family, and the community who rallied for his recovery after he was shot in the line of duty.
"I am forever indebted to you guys. On my name and honor, I will try to make you guys proud," Cooper said about the first responders, speaking in a press conference for the first time just eight months after his near-fatal gunshot wound to the head.
"The way you all took care of my family when I couldn't, leaves me speechless," he said, thanking the community who has supported their hometown hero.
In a ceremony for Covington officers, Cooper was given the "Police Star" award and a Medal of Valor. His wife was named an honorary officer, and the first responders who saved Cooper were recognized for their valiant efforts.
On September 3, police said Cooper responded to a shoplifting call at the local Walmart, and when a suspect ran away, Cooper went after him and was shot in the head. Cooper was transported to the hospital and later transferred to the Shepherd Center for intensive care and therapy.
Cooper continues therapy for two hours a day and has started therapy on his eye.
"I never thought I'd be a 35-year-old learning how to walk and eat again...Some days have been difficult, but I have my rock to get me through it," he said.
He credits his wife for her unwavering support and strength.
"This today is the greatest day of my career to see this officer honored today...148, his police car, is standing by waiting for him," Chief Stacey Cotton said.
Cooper plans to return to work and hopes to mentor new officers.