MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – The bullet that shattered the police officer’s upper left arm came within eight inches of his heart, maybe 16 inches from his head.
The shooter got off a single shot before his gun jammed. The wounded officer, on the ground, heard the gunman try to clear the jam before the shooter fled.
“I had a guardian angel with me that day.”
Kooi, who has returned to duty after months of rehabilitation, was honored with the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police’s Medal of Honor and Purple Heart awards.
His family, joined by police officers from around Muskegon County, including many who responded to his July 6, 2019, shooting, attended a ceremony on Tuesday, Aug. 18, at Muskegon Heights High School Academy’s football field.
Kooi was shot while trying to catch up with Dayvon Malik Davis, 22, who was suspected in a shooting minutes earlier at the S Mart, or Shell Mart, on Sherman Boulevard. A witness reported Davis was outside of nearby East Park Manor Apartments.
Muskegon Heights police Chief Joseph Thomas said Kooi was trying to approach Davis, who allegedly used a crowd outside the complex as a shield, without putting the others at risk. He dropped to the ground when he was shot and radioed for help.
“I told him: ‘That happened to you because you were doing your job.’ The young man really gave his all,” the chief said.
Bob Stevenson, executive director of Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, said policing is an “honorable profession” that sometimes requires significant sacrifice. Kooi put himself in harm’s way by tracking down the shooting suspect, he said.
Davis awaits trial on multiple charges, including attempted murder.
Kooi returned to full duty at the end of April. He thanked his wife, Kaitlyn, the rest of his family and fellow officers for their support.
He noted protests against police across the country after the May 25 death of George Floyd. The 46-year-old Black man died after a now-former Minneapolis police officer pinned his neck to the ground for nearly nine minutes.
Kooi said it is important to build trust with the community and share their different points of view because residents “do not see what we see on a day-to-day basis.”