Cops praise citizen’s arrest in alleged subway sex assault, caution on delayed arrests
TORONTO — Police are crediting an eagle-eyed commuter for making a citizen’s arrest of a fellow subway passenger sought weeks earlier in an alleged sexual assault on the transit service, but caution the public against making similar after-the-fact attempts at administering the law.
Det. Sgt. Joanne Rudnick with the sex crimes unit says the man recognized the suspect from a police photo while riding the subway with him, and made a peaceful citizen’s arrest.
The suspect had been sought by police following an alleged incident on a Yonge line subway train on Jan. 11, when investigators say a man sat down beside a 36-year-old woman and sexually assaulted her.
Rudnick did not provide detail on just what the citizen did to make the arrest — saying only he notified police — but reminded the public to think twice before taking matters into their own hands when they aren’t directly watching criminal activity go down.
“You may or may not be facing someone that could be violent… that has a weapon,” she said.
“I would be hesitant to advise people to become involved to that extent,” Rudnick said of the subway case.
“We certainly appreciate what this concerned citizen did, but again, we don’t know what can happen.”
“When a citizen makes an arrest, it has to be in most cases when you are actually seeing a crime happen,” Rudnick said.
A member of the public can make a citizen’s arrest if they are witnessing a crime or see a suspect running from police, the Criminal Code states. Property owners, however, can make an arrest within a “reasonable time” afterwards, an amendment made by the former Conservative government after Toronto grocer David Chen chased down and detained a shoplifter.
In situations like the subway arrest, citizens have to think twice before making a delayed arrest — and even risk being charged themselves — said Toronto lawyer Sunira Chaudhri.
“Usually all arrests happening after-the-fact in Ontario, and in Canada, are illegal,” she said.
“The issue is we’re not really sure whether these people that they’re apprehending are the real criminals.”
Criminal charges and civil suits can result for making an arrest after the fact, Chaudhri said.
“Citizens need to know that if you are engaging in a citizen’s arrest, make sure that you are moving forward while this person is actually committing the act and you’re catching them red-handed.”
In the subway case, 30-year-old Jesus Ramon Jorge Saavedra was arrested Jan. 29 and charged with one count of sexual assault.
Investigators believe there may be more alleged victims and are encouraging anyone with information to contact them.
With files from Caryn Lieberman and David Shum.
© 2016 Shaw Media