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Man convicted of killing Racine Police Officer John Hetland sentenced to life in prison
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RACINE COUNTY

Man convicted of killing Racine Police Officer John Hetland sentenced to life in prison

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RACINE — Dalquavis Ward is going away for life.

On Friday, the man convicted of killing beloved longtime Racine Police Officer John Hetland was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Racine County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Boyle handed down the sentence to Ward less than two months after the 27-year-old was found guilty on Sept. 25.

Ward was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting death of Hetland, who was 49-years-old at the time of his death and a 24-year veteran of the RPD. Ward was additionally convicted of armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Case history

Events began at 9:37 p.m. on June 17, 2019 with the armed robbery of Teezers Bar & Grill, located at 1936 Lathrop Ave. in Racine.

Surveillance video showed a man, later identified as Ward, approach a back door and attempt to open it, but it was locked.

The door led to upstairs apartments, not the bar.

Ward then approached customers at picnic tables, gun drawn, and asked if they had a key.

One of the patrons showed him the other back door, which led into the back of the bar.

Interior surveillance video showed Ward going directly to the cash register.

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According to trial testimony, he demanded the bartender hand over the money in the drawer and the money bag.

The video also showed another figure, that of Hetland, who was off-duty at the time, jumping over the bar and confronting the armed man.

Hetland was at the bar having dinner with a friend.

After a brief struggle, Ward pushed Hetland back and shot him once in the chest. He died at the scene.

DNA evidence on Hetland as well as a doorknob led investigators directly to Ward, who had been released from prison just four days before the robbery and was still on federal probation.

The suspect

Like all felons, Ward’s DNA was in a government system. He was arrested 10 days after the murder.

Ward’s first felony conviction was when he was a juvenile, and he was sentenced to spend time in the now-notorious and soon-to-be-shut-down Lincoln Hills facility for juvenile offenders.

In 2014, when Ward was 21 years old, Ward was convicted of armed robbery of a liquor store in Racine and was sentenced to federal prison.

Ward denied at trial that he was the person who robbed Teezers and murdered Hetland.

The defense attempted to demonstrate through the forensic expert that the amount of DNA collected from the scene was unusually large — suggesting it had been planted. However, the jury rejected that scenario returned a verdict of guilty on all counts.

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