Veteran SDPD officers named in fatal shooting of refugee


Ja Ma Lo Day (Facebook)

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SAN DIEGO — Authorities released the names Tuesday of two policemen who fatally shot a young man when he allegedly swung a machete at a third officer during a weekend confrontation at a Fairmount Village apartment.

San Diego police Officers Kelly Copeland Jr. and Javier Morales opened fire on 21-year-old Ja Ma Lo Day at his family’s residence in the 3800 block of Menlo Avenue on Sunday evening, SDPD homicide Lt. Mike Hastings said. Day died at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds.

Ja Ma Lo Day (Facebook)

Copeland, Morales and other officers went to the apartment shortly before 10:30 p.m. on reports that a man there was threatening his family. They arrived to find Day holding a knife and a stick and behaving in an “agitated” manner, Hastings said.

“He made threats to kill police officers at the scene and later retrieved a machete from inside his home,” the lieutenant said.

Officers tried in vain to subdue Day with stun guns and police dogs, Hastings said. When one of the canines approached, he slashed the animal on the back with the machete. Day then allegedly swung the weapon at an officer, prompting Copeland and Morales to shoot him.

The police dog, an 8-year-old German shepherd named Nando, was taken to a veterinary hospital, where staples were used to close the wound. The animal was released to his owner and is expected to survive.

According to a social-media website established after the shooting, Day and his family fled ethnic strife in their home country of Myanmar and came to the United States as refugees. He suffered from mental illness and had been involved in several prior encounters with the police, according to the online postings.

Copeland has been with the San Diego Police Department for six years, and Morales for five.

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