Trial begins for Jonathan Copeland, accused of ambushing Officer Michael Michalski

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Jonathan Copeland

MILWAUKEE -- The trial for the man accused of shooting and killing Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Michalski began Monday morning, Feb. 25. The trial was postponed two weeks because of the death of Milwaukee Police Officer Matthew Rittner, killed in the line of duty on Feb. 6.

On Monday morning, 60 potential jurors filled out a seven-page questionnaire designed to weed out people who might have a bias or conflict of interest in the case.

"That's the pool from which the 14 jurors will be picked from," said Judge Jeffrey Wagner.

Cameras were not allowed to record as the judge, prosecutor and defense asked the remaining jurors a variety of questions including what they had heard or read about the case and whether that information would affect their ability to be impartial.

Jonathan Copeland

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said Copeland shot Officer Michalski in the head on July 25, 2018, killing him as he and other officers searched for Copeland -- a wanted suspect -- near 28th and Wright. Prosecutors said Copeland ambushed Officer Michalski on the stairs of a home in the area. Prosecutors said they plan to take jurors to that home where the crime happened Tuesday.

Officer Michalski's loved ones filled the courtroom Monday. A few of Copeland's friends and family said they also planned on attending each day of the trial.

Copeland was charged with first degree intentional homicide, attempted first degree intentional homicide and possession of a firearm by a felon in the case. He pleaded not guilty to those charges in August of 2018.

Officer-involved shooting near 28th and Wright

Prosecutors said while inside that home near 28th and Wright, as Michalski and other officers attempted to arrest Copeland, Michalski went up a staircase and encountered “slight movement in a pile of clothing.” The criminal complaint said Copeland “hid silently for over 10 minutes on the landing, and ambushed and shot Officer Michalski as the officer began to close in."

Copeland is also accused of shooting at other officers outside. He faces an attempted homicide charge for that.

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