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Witnesses testify Racine Police Officer John Hetland died 'seconds' after being shot

Posted at 4:28 PM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 19:19:22-04

RACINE, Wis. — An early and abrupt end to court Wednesday, the second day of trial for the man accused of killing an off-duty Racine police officer. Dalquavis Ward, 27, has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of John Hetland. This comes just as prosecutors were presenting DNA evidence in Ward’s trial.

Wednesday afternoon following a lunch break, the judge came into the courtroom saying the court was finished for the day and everyone should go home. The judge also delayed the start of the court until 1 p.m. Thursday. No other explanation was given for the delay.

A witness testified this morning, he spoke to a masked man just as he was trying to get into a backdoor at Teezers Bar and Grill in June of last year.

“He took a couple of steps in our direction, pulled a gun out enough for me to see the handle,” said witness Charles DeLotell.

Prosecutors say that man was Ward. As he was holding a bartender at gunpoint and demanding money from Teezers, Hetland tried to tackle him and take his gun. Hetland was shot. Retired firefighter and paramedic Otioniel Valadez tried to save Hetland.

“I was inches from his face and I’m looking at him I watched his pupils dilated,” said Valadez as he checked for a pulse. “I knew he had expired."

Dr. Doug Kelley, the deputy chief medical examiner for Milwaukee County who performed the autopsy said Hetland was shot directly through the heart and would not have survived long after the shot.

“Based on the injury to the aorta, it is a very short period of time, it's in the range of seconds,” said Kelley.

Prosecutors say during the struggle for the gun, some of Ward’s DNA got on Hetland. It is one of multiple places they say Ward’s DNA was found that night.

The defense has questioned law enforcement involvement in the case. Focusing in on Wednesday on two detectives who watched the autopsy and asked for DNA to be collected from areas of Hetland’s body they say the suspect touched.

“Somebody made mention that contact was made between the two individuals and they requested that perhaps we swab these areas,” said Kelley.

Prosecutors say the DNA is Ward’s and it was collected correctly by the medical examiner.

“It was not uncommon to have detectives who were related to the case show for the autopsy,” said Kelley.

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