PHOENIX (KSAZ) - He was performing a traffic stop when the driver opened fire, his life saved by his body armor.
Now coworkers, supporters, friends, and family flanked Officer Eric Gardner t an all day fundraiser in his honor.
He still has a long recovery ahead of him, and it's possible he may never fully recover the use of his left hand again, so the Phoenix Police Union fired up the grill to help Gardner and his family with their bills and needs.
Back on his feet, Officer Eric Gardner blended in with the crowd, the only sign that he had been shot several times was his arm in a sling.
"Take the sling away, It'd be hard to know he was shot three times and had his arm blown up by a .45 round because he seems normal," said Sgt. Vernon Brink.
There's probably no one more grateful for his survival than his children.
"I was speechless," said Nicholas Gardner.
Gardner is a father of five, his son Nicholas says he didn't know what to say when family members told him what happened to his dad.
"Glad that he survived, and he didn't get hurt badly," said Nicholas.
A gunman came close to taking Gardner's life on September 16, Gardner pulled a car over, ran the plates that came back invalid. He called for a backup unit and approached the car, that is when the suspect opened fire. His co-workers say Gardner did everything right.
"Once he was shot Eric reacted exactly as we would want him to, Eric chose the path to retreat to the car, get on the radio, and continue to defend himself from the ground if he had to. Fortunately the car took off Eric was able to call for help," said Sgt. Brink.
Gardner's body armor likely saved his life, but a bullet shattered a bone in his left arm causing severe nerve damage.
At this point, it's unclear if Gardner will recover the full use of his left hand. 100% of the proceeds collected at this fundraiser will go toward helping Gardner and his family through the tough times.
Gardner's son says his dad may be hurt, but he's certainly not down.
"He's a hard-working dad, he helps us a lot with homework and stuff," said Nicholas.
Police caught the gunman several hours after the shooting; he's been identified as 26-year-old Michael Rogers. Rogers had several outstanding warrants and shot Gardner because he didn't want to go to jail. Rogers remains in jail on a $1 million bond.