Sgt. Mike Parsons of the Tulsa (OK) Police Department believes his life may have been saved by his Navy challenge coin.
On the morning of July 3, 2018, the Tulsa, Oklahoma police officer was among a group of officers who stopped John Terry Chatman Jr. at a QuikTrip gas pump after noticing a discrepancy between the van Chatman was driving and his license plates.
"Less than 10 seconds" after Parsons fired a Pepperball at Chatman, Chatman opened fire. As captured on video by Tulsa police body cameras, Parsons was shot in the leg, and two fellow officers dragged him out of the kill zone.
One of his fellow officers, Con Ericsson, worried that the bullet had fractured a femur or hit his femoral artery, although he observed no signs of shock or swelling.
But somehow, Parsons was fine.
With Chatman in custody, EMTs put Parsons in the back of an ambulance and cut away his pants to get a better look at his injury.
That's when a coin clattered to the floor of the ambulance. Larger than a quarter, there was clearly a dent in the piece of metal. Ericsson held it up to the injury; sure enough, the dent matched the pattern of bruising on Parsons' leg, Task and Purpose reports.
Ericsson recognized the coin almost immediately: It was the challenge coin that a friend had given him as an incentive to make the leap from enlisted to officer in the Navy—and it was the same coin he'd insisted Parsons carry on his person just weeks before the shooting.
Chatman currently faces life in prison after being convicted on charges related to the July shooting. Parsons will start his 27th year on the Tulsa police force this coming May alongside his wife, Officer Bishop. They have three beautiful daughters.