MILWAUKEE -- The widow of fallen Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Michalski spoke publicly Saturday, Oct. 5 for the first time since his death in the line of duty in July 2018 -- thanking the community for their outpouring of love at a ceremony to unveil a memorial in his name.
A memorial bench in Officer Michalski's honor was unveiled Saturday at Manitoba Park near 50th Street and Manitoba Street.
"It's a beautiful place to live and to be, and I thank them all," said Susan Michalski. "It's just been a neighborhood, and a park, and a community that we have really appreciated. I just thank them so much for caring enough."
On July 25, 2018, Officer Michalski and MPD's Special Investigations Unit responded to the area near 28th and Wright for a man wanted for a violation of parole and possession of a controlled substance. Officer Michalski and other members of the unit saw the wanted man run into a home in the area, at which time, officers entered the home to conduct a search. During the search, the suspect fired multiple rounds at police, striking Officer Michalski. Officers returned fire and ultimately took the suspect into custody.
Michalski was 52 years old and a 17-year veteran of the Milwaukee Police Department. He left behind a wife, three sons, and a host of family and friends.
"The day he passed, a lot of residents contacted me and said, 'Hey, we've got to do something,'" said Dee Chastain, Jackson Park Community Association president. "'We've got to remember Mike. Can we do something?' Sue and family, as the president of the Jackson Park Community Association, I would like to present you with this tree and this bench in Mike's honor."
The bench and tree were dedicated in Officer Michalski's memory on Saturday afternoon.
"Paying tribute to a man who did so much for this city, who did so much for this neighborhood," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. "I think this is a wonderful remembrance."
The tributes were unveiled in a spot where Michalski and his family spent much of their time.
"Playing with our dog, playing with our grandkids, playing football," said Susan Michalski. "This park has been a space where Mike and I have spent many days."
There's now a permanent reminder of Officer Michalski's sacrifice in that space.
"We never forget, is the biggest thing," said Susan Michalski. "He will always be remembered in many ways."
Jonathan Copeland Jr. convicted of first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting death of Officer Michalski was sentenced to life in prison in May.