Tulsa Police Department Sgt. Mike Parsons and the challenge coin that saved his life. (Photos courtesy of Mike Parsons)
Sgt. Mike Parsons should have died that day.
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.
Chatman was irate. The 34-year-old felon "challenged the officers' jurisdiction several times and asked the police officers to contact their superiors" until Parsons, a 25-year veteran of the department, arrived to support his fellow officers with a non-lethal pepper-ball gun, according to a timeline of the encounter
compiled by The Tulsa World and video footage from the scene.
"Less than 10 seconds" after Parsons loosed off a pepper ball, 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.
After being convicted of a 2015 hit-and-run in Verdigris, Oklahoma, that left one teen dead and another critically injured, Gage Shriver posed an alternative punishment to his judge: that, instead of a 25-year prison stretch, he be allowed to do penance by joining the Marines.