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'You murdered the father of my son': Man sentenced life without parole in Officer Michalski's murder

Posted at 6:20 PM, May 02, 2019

The man who killed Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Michalski in an an ambush attack last summer was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Thirty-one-year-old Jonathan Copeland Jr. was wheeled into the courtroom smiling at his family in the gallery, but his smile didn't last long.

“This was an ambush,” said District Attorney John Chisholm.

Chisholm played chilling exhibits from the day Copeland murdered Michalski, starting with a 911 call from Copeland’s wife.

“He’s standing out there with a big gun and kids outside, like it’s just crazy,” she told a 911 dispatcher. “Tell police to be safe because he said he was going to shoot them. He said he’s not going back to jail.”

From there, Chisholm showed the court body camera footage of Michalski and fellow officers entering a home on the north side of Milwaukee to arrest Copeland.

Michalski’s body camera footage showed him climbing a staircase, raising his gun, then a blanket moves. Less than a second later, Copeland shot and killed Michalski at point-blank range.

“This was in every classic sense a kill zone for Officer Michalski,” said Chisholm.

The prosecution said Copeland went on to fire nine more shots. Several of them were at other officers. Michalski was 52-years-old, leaving behind a wife and kids. His wife Susan Michalski tearfully shared her pain.

“You murdered the father of my son,” she said. “My son will graduate from college without his father, marry someday without his father, become a father without his father.”

Copeland’s response to the court was that he was scared as police entered the home.

“I was afraid for my life when I was in that hallway,” he said. "We got to be mindful of the Syvilles and the Dontre Hamiltons and the Trayvon Martins. That’s really all I got to say.”

Judge Jeff Wagner sided with the state by giving Copeland a sentence of life in prison without the opportunity for parole. Chisholm said it was the only outcome to preserve justice.

“It’s closure, that’s all you can say,” Chisholm said. “It doesn’t end any of the heartache, pain, suffering that the family, the department and the community is going to experience from this for a long time, but it brings this chapter to a close.”

Press Release Jonathan Copeland Sentenced to Life in Prison by TODAY'S TMJ4 on Scribd