William H. Dallas was a former slave and served during the Civil War. In 1874, he became a police officer with the Quincy Illinois Police Department. He also became the first black officer to lose his life in the line of duty in the state.
Dallas grew up as a slave in South Carolina. Around 1840, he escaped slavery and made his way to Quincy, a safe haven for blacks. He joined the Union Army during the Civil War and after being wounded, he was honored for standing his ground during heavy firing.
After the war, Dallas returned to Quincy where he was appointed as a police officer in 1874. He was said to have been one of the best police officers on the force.
On May 29, 1876, Dallas along with another officer, O’Brien had been assigned to work on the north side of the city. A rash of burglaries had occurred and the two officers were working to capture the thieves. On the night the two men where working, they had received a tip from a citizen. The citizen had discovered a stash of what appeared to be stolen merchandise. The two officers arrived in hopes that they would catch the thieves. The staked out the area that night and after waiting several hours they saw four men enter the building. As Officer Dallas and Officer O’Brien approached the men, the intruders began shooting and running.
Dallas and his partner were unaware that one of the four burglars had gone under the barn until three shots were fired. A bullet hit Dallas in the chin. He was then hit by the other robbers and fell to the ground. O’Brien, who believed Dallas was dead started chasing the thieves.
Not dead, Officer Dallas managed to crawl to a nearby home for help. He was later taken to his home where surgery was performed, but Dallas did not make it. He died from his wounds. Officer Dallas died on May 30, 1876. No one was ever charged with the murder of Officer Dallas.