MILWAUKEE, Wisc. — A Wisconsin police officer who was killed in the line of duty this week was a Christian who would share the gospel with those he arrested and pray for their salvation.
Michael Michalski, 52, of the Milwaukee Police Department was killed on Wednesday while among a group of officers with the Special Investigations Division pursuing Jonathan Copeland Jr., 30, a convicted felon who was wanted on drug, domestic violence and parole violations. Copeland had been seen running into a house, and officers followed.
However, upon entry, Copeland shot at the officers, striking Michalski. The other officers returned fire. Michalski was transported to the hospital, where he died of his injuries. Copeland surrendered only after running out of ammunition and was not injured.
A sorrowful Chief Alfonso Morales spoke to the media on Thursday, outlining the details of what happened to Michalski, who he spoke of as being an ideal policeman.
“He is the person who you would want to cut out and cookie-cut and say, ‘This is what we want the Milwaukee Police Department to represent,'” he said.
“He’s a Christian; well-loved on the department,” Morales also noted.
Michalski’s pastor, Ross Layne of Grace Community Church in West Allis, likewise told local television station Fox 6 News that Michalski was a man whose heart had been changed by the power of God.
“The most important thing for people to know about Mike was that he was a follower of Jesus Christ, and that’s something that happened in the last [five] years,” he said. “He understood the gospel as clearly as anybody I’ve seen—that he was a sinner, that he needed Christ’s sacrifice for his sins.”
In 2016, Michalski shared his testimony at Desatar Ministry in Milwaukee during a special service honoring the local police force. During his talk, he explained how God had opened his eyes to his sins and his need for salvation.
Michalski shared that three years prior, he received a phone call from a female acquaintance that he had not heard from in 20 years, who wanted to ask if he had a certain phone number. During the call, the two also talked about the death of the woman’s nephew, and she wondered aloud if he had been told about the Lord and if he was in Heaven.
Michalski said that the discussion caused him to think about all the times someone had ever mentioned God to him, both good and bad, as well as how he had treated God through the years.
“[T]houghts came through my head of all the times I cursed God, all the times I mocked God, all the times I shook my fist at God, all the times I didn’t believe in God,” he explained.
The next day, Michalski had to report for an incident where a young man was being kicked off a bus for reading the Bible. The man gave Michalski a gospel tract, who placed it in the visor of his car. He soon began to ponder the reality that he had never told his wife and son about the Lord, and realized he would have to answer for that.
“That pierced my heart, and that is when the Lord opened my eyes and my ears to my sins, of who I was, my wicked ways—he opened my heart that morning,” Michalski outlined. “[A]fter reading that Bible tract, I put my faith and my trust in the Lord.”
He said that he had struggled with hatred for drug dealers, gang members and prostitutes because of how bad they were, but the Lord brought him to realize that the field was level.
“I am not better than the drug dealer. I am not better than a prostitute. I am the same; I am just a sinner,” Michalski told those gathered. “So, with that, the Lord has changed my heart; He has softened my heart. … He has taken that hate and anger away.”
He said that he began to realize that all the crimes people commit stem from a sin problem, which motivated him to talk to those he arrested about the Lord and give them a gospel tract.
“Some people have cried. Some people have broken down. Some people have said, ‘No one has ever spoken the word of God to me before in [my] life,'” Michalski recounted.
And where there once was hate, he now felt a genuine care and concern for the souls of men.
“When I leave work now, instead of cursing, instead of hating, every person that I’m involved in arresting, I pray for them,” Michalski stated. “I pray that while they’re sitting in that jail cell, that they seek the Lord. What better place [than] that filthy, stinking jail cell to seek the Lord. I pray they read that card that I gave them. And I also pray for their families that they [will] seek the Lord.”
He noted that some of those arrested may be locked up for a long time, but “this is just man’s court; final judgment is with the Lord and that’s what matters.”
Michalski also lamented the rise of crime in the country, but said it all points to what was promised in the Scriptures.
“We see the lawlessness. It’s coming. It’s not getting any better, but we need to spread God’s word,” he exhorted, and read from John 3:16-17. “That’s the answer right there: to be saved. … Salvation is the most important thing in the world, both now and hereafter. If you are not saved, nothing really matters.”
The funeral for Michalski will be held at Oak Creek Assembly of God on Aug. 1 at 3 p.m.
View Michalski’s testimony below at approximately 52:00 into the service.