June 15 (UPI) -- The family of a Las Vegas police officer who was shot early this month during protests over the police-involved killing of George Floyd is paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak.
Shay K. Mikalonis, 29, of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department was critically injured June 1 when he was shot in the head while working patrol during a protest that turned violent, the police department said.
In a statement published on the LVMPD's social media accounts, the Mikalonis family said he was on a ventilator at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada but was awake and "seems to recognize his family members."
"We can't thank the staff of caring professionals at UMC for getting him this far, truly a miracle," the Mikalonis family wrote. "Because of the life-saving work and care he received, Shay has tentatively been accepted to one of the best spine rehabilitation centers in the country."
The letter followed the Injured Police Officers Fund hosting the "Shay Day" donation drive on Thursday to raise money for his recovery.
"Words can not being to express how grateful we feel," the family said of the event. "We, as a family, want to say thank you, Las Vegas, for your continuing support of Shay."
The Vegas Golden Knights of the NHL presented a jersey signed by the team to Mikalonis, the family said, adding he is a "big-time" fan of the hockey team, and it will travel with him as "a slice of home" when he goes to the rehabilitation center.
The shooting occurred amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial inequality after Floyd, a black man, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Video of the interaction ignited widespread anger as the now-fired officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder while the three other officers involved in the interaction have been charged with aiding and abetting murder in the second degree.
Hours after Mikalonis was shot, police arrested Edgar Samaniego who has been charged with attempted murder, use of a deadly weapon and two counts of firing a weapon in a prohibited area.