Officer Matt Cooper on returning to work: ‘The Lord blessed me with a second chance'

NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. — You could call Matt Cooper “Miracle Matt."

The Covington police officer went back to work this week less than two years after a suspect shot him in the head and neck.

“When the chips are down, there’s always gonna be a time where you face hardship but just never give up and keep going. Never quit. And I’ll never quit until the day I die," Cooper said.

Cooper and his wife Kristen sat down exclusively with Channel 2′s Mark Winne.

“The Lord blessed me with a second chance,” Cooper said.

The couple said it’s a true power-of-prayer style miracle that he could report back to work.

“Monday when we sent him off to work, it was so many emotions. So thankful to God that I could even sent him off to work,” Kristen Cooper said. “He was smiling so hard that I couldn’t help but smile and be excited for him."

Channel 2 Action News has been following Cooper’s journey since 2018.

On Labor Day 2018, a shoplifting suspect trying to escape shot Cooper between the eyes and the neck.

“My whole life changed like in an instant,” he said.

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Cooper said technically he’s a volunteer right now and works a couple hours for a few days a week. He is gradually working toward returning to the payroll.

“Just right now, it’s a trial period to see if my body and brain can tolerate the work and will reconvene in like a few months. If it works, then we will talk about maybe increasing my hours and responsibility.”

Cooper said he may never be a street cop again with a bullet still in his neck. But he could still have an impact in other ways.

“It was a day of excitement and relief to see Matt walk back through the door of the Covington Police Department,” Chief Stacey Cotton said.

Kristen Cooper told Winne she still thinks about the life the family once had, more active and less complicated than the last 20 months with hundreds of medical appointments.

She said they’re grateful to the Covington police and the whole community. She knows a world wracked by COVID-19 needs inspiration.

“Just stay strong and you will have good moments again,” she said.

“I got some more time on this earth to make a difference in somebody’s else’s life. I’ll make as much time as I can here to show that God is real and he can help you out cause he helped me out,” Matt Cooper said.

Cotton told Winne that Officer Cooper will be doing community outreach, administrative and support duties.

Hopefully in the future, he will become part of the department’s training unit -- with a story to tell unmatched around there.