The big man with a gun on his hip sat on a tiny chair and sipped make-believe tea with a little Texas girl who owes him her life.
The sweet scene between Rowlett Police Cpl. Patrick Ray and 2-year-old Bexley Norvell was arranged by Bexley’s mom, Tammy, as a way to commemorate the day one year ago when Ray saved Bexley’s life.
"I wanted to make this a positive day for her," Norvell told Inside Edition.com. "We talk about it pretty often. My daughter will always know that she was saved by officer P-Ray," she said, using Ray’s nickname.
What they talk about is that afternoon a year ago when Bexley inexplicably collapsed after an afternoon of swimming at the family’s home in suburban Dallas. “I picked up her head and looked at her and her lips were completely blue,” her mother said. She called to her husband to dial 911.
Terrified, she tried to open Bexley’s mouth but the child’s jaw was clenched. “I’m blowing in her face. I’m slapping her cheeks,” she said. Nothing helped.
Then she heard the police siren, and she ran out the front door with Bexley in her arms.
She was met by Ray, who asked what had happened while trying to get Bexley’s jaw unclenched. He managed to get his fingers inside her mouth and pull her cheeks out, which allowed air to go down her throat.
“I heard her cough, and then I heard a little squeaking noise and she was perfectly fine,” Norvell said.
X-rays later determined the child had a penny in her digestive tract.
When Ray pulled her cheeks free, the coin apparently went down her esophagus.
To mark the one-year anniversary of that harrowing day, she wanted to do something special to bring together the savior cop and her precocious daughter.
“I just wanted to do something sweet and little girl-ish,” she said. She also wanted to show the human side of a police officer, especially after the recent killings of five police officers in nearby Dallas.
“My dad was a cop in Dallas for 30 years,” she said. “Every day they are putting their life on the line. But they still get up and they still do it.”
At their tea for two, Ray showed Bexley the correct way to eat an Oreo — by twisting it and licking the middle. They clinked their cups together.
Her mother hired a professional photographer, Chelle Cates, to capture the tiny soiree.
And Ray, the father of two boys, loved every minute of it. “I don’t have any girls myself … And this was something I couldn’t resist. I just couldn’t say no.”
He hasn’t been back to work since this week’s tea, but he’s pretty sure he will be in for plenty of ribbing from his tough guy colleagues.
Norvell says she knows it won’t bother him at all.
“He saved a little girl’s life. He doesn’t care. He’s like ‘Bring it on.’’’
And she loves the tea party photos.
“Look at this macho man with a gun on his hip pouring tea for a little girl. People just need to realize how bad this world would be if we didn’t have law enforcement,” she said.