MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee Police Department squad car on Thursday morning, July 26 was parked outside MPD's Police Administration Building near 9th and State, draped in black, in honor of Officer Michael Michalski, a 17-year veteran of the department who was shot near 28th and Wright Wednesday evening, July 25, and died from his injuries. A family friend of the fallen officer said he was committed to three things -- his family, his career and his faith.
"He's the person that, if you're going to the door and wanted cooperation or wanted people to talk to you, you'd send Officer Michalski," said Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales.
“He was the one that oftentimes was sent to the most difficult situations because of his ability to communicate with people because of the level of respect he showed individuals regardless of where they stood in the community," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Police offered these details regarding Officer Michalski's career:
He was appointed as a seasonal police telecommunicator on June 1, 1998.
He was then appointed as a regular police telecommunicator on Sept. 20, 1998.
He resigned on Sept. 19, 2000, and was hired by the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy on Jan. 7, 2000 – and resigned on Feb. 16, 2001.
On Feb. 19, 2001, Officer Michalski was hired as a police officer.
"He's a Christian. Well loved on the department and pretty much everybody loved him," said Chief Morales.
Others knew Officer Michalski as "Mike." Danny Rodgers had breakfast with the officer on Saturday, July 21.
"We got an email sharing the tragic news. We had fellowship together, talked about God, talked about our families -- how we can continue to spread the good news of the gospel and glorify God with our lives," said Rodgers.
Michalski was a 17-year veteran of MPD, and a 20-year veteran with the City of Milwaukee. He served with MPD's "Special Investigations Division," which was performing a check on a wanted suspect Wednesday evening when the shooting happened.
"I just think it's a sad thing. People who are serving are dying for no reason. I've had several family members that have served in the armed forces and this is a similar situation," said Zachary Krushas, who stopped by the memorial honoring the fallen officer.
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said Thursday afternoon the suspect, Jonathan Copeland Jr., was wanted for violation of parole, possession of a controlled substance (heroin) and harassment intimidation offenses.
Members of MPD’s Special Investigations division observed Copeland Jr. run into a home in the area. As officers ran into that home, Chief Morales said Copeland Jr. fired multiple times at the officers, who returned fire. Chief Morales said after Copeland Jr. fired at officers and ran out of ammunition, he gave up.
"A guy died a few months ago, and now we have another one. Different circumstances -- so something is going on in this city right now. I'm not really sure. It's changed. People are driving worse, and worse things are happening," said Krushas.
While Copeland Jr. was not struck, Officer Michalski was. He was transported to Froedtert Hospital with serious injuries, and died, despite life-saving efforts.
Chief Morales said Officer Michalski leaves behind a wife, Susan, and three sons — John, Josh and Andrew.
Governor Scott Walker ordered flags at half-staff in Officer Michalski's honor.
"The flag is freedom. He didn't plan on dying, but that's what some of these guys...every day, they know that's something that might happen. It's a symbol of respect. You heard the new chief talking about how he was a friend of his, and it's just sad. I've thought about being a cop myself, but stuff like this, it makes you think twice, you know? Hopefully things will change. Some of these communities got to see the cops are trying to help them," said Krushas.