Okla. officer speaks out for the 1st time after being shot in the head during 2020 traffic stop

“I am still getting better,” said officer Aurash Zarkeshan about his recovery from a traumatic brain injury

By Bill Carey 

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa Police officer who survived being shot in the head during a traffic stop in 2020 is talking about the incident, his miraculous recovery , and life with a traumatic brain injury. 

Officer Aurash Zarkeshan and Sergeant Craig Johnson were shot during a traffic stop on June 29, 2020. Johnson died from his injuries, NewsOn6 reported.  

Zarkeshan said he has no memory of shooting, which changed his life forever. "They say I am a walking miracle, but I am just a survivor, and I am happy to be one,” said Zarkeshan. 

"The challenge was not knowing what had happened and getting all of the information from other people,” said Zarkeshan. He didn't find out until a month later that his supervisor and friend, Craig Johnson, had died. 

Zarkeshan was eventually transferred to a hospital in Colorado, that specializes in neurorehabilitation. He spent three months there, where doctors repaired part of his skull using 3D printing. 

"Recovery from brain injuries can take months to years and the full scope of recovery isn't evident immediately,” said Dr. Yashar Kalani, a neurosurgeon at Ascension St. John, who initially operated on Zarkeshan to stop the bleeding. 

"The fear that most people have, especially immediately after a big accident or big trauma to the head, is … is this person going to be cognitively the same as the person they were before the injury, to reengage with society, like hold down a job, have family relations, have the spousal relations that are needed,” said Dr. Kalani. 

When Zarkeshan finally got back to Oklahoma in October 2020, he was focused on going back to work. 

"November 3. I remember the day,” Zarkeshan said about the day he returned to work. "I remember Chad Murtah, one of my friends from the department, he came and picked me up and we took a back-to-work picture. It was like the first day back to school. It was just awesome. Going over there was like they had a party for me. It wasn't necessary but it made me feel special." 

EARLIER: Suspect who killed Tulsa officer had threatened him in prior encounter

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