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‘They got me for murder:’ Jonathan Copeland faces homicide charges in death of Officer Michael Michalski

Jonathan Copeland

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office issued multiple criminal charges against Jonathan Copeland Jr. in connection with the death of Officer Michael Michalski.

Copeland faces the following charges:

  • First degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon
  • Attempt first degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon
  • Possession of a firearm by a felon

A criminal complaint filed against Copeland says officers were in the area near 28th and Wright on July 25 because Copeland had an “open arrest warrant” for felony drug crimes, as well as a warrant for absconding from Department of Corrections supervision. Copeland was spotted going into a home in the area, and officers went to that location in an effort to arrest Copeland.

According to the complaint, officers arrived at the residence and formulated a plan to search the house for him. Officer Michalski, wearing his police uniform, “began to ascend the rear staircase to the upper floor” of the home after Copeland wasn’t found on the lower floor.

Milwaukee police officer shot near 28th & Wright

Michalski was wearing a body camera. The video shows as he climbed the staircase, a pile of clothing came into view. There was slight movement in the pile of clothing, the complaint says, and then the “camera view suddenly blurs, consistent with the officer moving rapidly to attempt a retreat.” Gunshots rang out at that time — and the video went black as Michalski fell onto the camera.

Another officer’s body camera captured “Michalski lying motionless on the stairs to the upper floor.” The complaint says Officer Michalski was shot in the head.

Multiple .45 caliber casings were recovered from the upper landing where Copeland was eventually arrested.

The complaint says two other officers were outside and heard the gunfire from inside. One saw a window screen get pushed out of a window and Copeland was seen leaning out from inside. The complaint says Copeland pointed a gun at one of the officers and shot at him. An officer returned fire, and Copeland pulled his body back into the house. An officer then saw a gun (a .45 caliber “High Point” semi-automatic pistol) thrown from the window onto the lawn, and Copeland was heard yelling that his hands were up and not to shoot him. Copeland was arrested on the stairway landing.

It was determined that the door to the upper unit at 28th and Wright was locked, and the complaint indicates Copeland became trapped on the landing — where he hid silently for 10 minutes and “ambushed and shot Officer Michalski” as he began to close in.

The complaint says Michalski immediately fell after the first gunshot and never moved again. Officers carried him out of the stairwell and he was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The medical examiner determined the cause of death to be a single gunshot wound to the head. His death was ruled a homicide.

Jonathan Copeland

The complaint says on the morning of July 25, Copeland sent a text to his wife, in which he appeared to threaten to shoot police if they were to come after him. This, after authorities say on July 23, Copeland’s wife called police to report that he was threatening to shoot up her house because she refused to reimburse him for an expense he had incurred.

In the exchange were texts reading: “Police can’t save you FYI. N I Will pop 1 of they (expletive) if u try to jam me up.”

After his arrest, Copeland told officers “they got me for murder. I shot him,” according to the complaint. While being transported to the hospital, the complaint says Copeland said “I will take it off your waist and put one in the back of your head too,” a statement that was recorded by body cameras.

The Milwaukee Police Department has created a GoFundMe page for Officer Michalski’s family.

Anyone wishing to make a donation may do so at any Tri City National Bank, or you can send any donations to the address below:

Michael J. Michalski Memorial Fund
C/O Tri City National Bank
7525 W. Oklahoma Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53219

Officer Michalski’s funeral is set for Wednesday, Aug. 1. The funeral will be held at Oak Creek Assembly of God (7311 S. 13th St., Oak Creek). on Wednesday, Aug. 1. There will be a visitation from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. The memorial service will commence at 3 p.m.

CLICK HERE to view the Officer Michalski Funeral Procession Route