‘I had to do something’: Bystander records confrontation inside Lethbridge bank

Click to play video 'Bystander steps in during confrontation inside Lethbridge bank' Bystander steps in during confrontation inside Lethbridge bank
WATCH ABOVE: A Lethbridge resident shares his story after filming an incident inside a downtown bank. Eloise Therien has more on what happened, and comments from police about how citizens should handle witnessing potential crime – Feb 23, 2021

Eden Rodriguez was on his way home from work in downtown Lethbridge on Feb. 12, when he passed by the Royal Bank of Canada branch on 7 Street S.

He was walking to the bus because his car hadn’t been working that day.

“I saw through the window, two individuals, one on top of the other pinning the other one down to the ground,” he said.

That’s when he got his cell phone out and entered the building, approaching to record the situation.

In the video, a man can be seen straddling a woman, who is face down on the floor near the ATMs. She can be heard asking for help, while Rodriguez asks the man to stop several times.

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“I got him by his jacket and pulled him a little bit to the side — he didn’t like it, but I didn’t care,” Rodriguez said.

“I just went and grabbed the lady and got her out of the situation.”

Rodriguez said the man was much bigger than him and appeared to be heavily intoxicated. At one point in the video, Rodriguez becomes very loud to scare the man off.

“I didn’t have to — I was going home to see my kids and my partner and I could’ve just kept walking,” Rodriguez said. ” I just really didn’t think about it — this is just the right thing to do.”

He said the woman’s mouth was bleeding and she was clearly in distress; he called police and waited for them to arrive, showing them the video he had taken.

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What do police suggest when it comes to witnessing potential crime?

Lethbridge police wouldn’t comment on the incident directly, but said there are certain recommendations when it comes to witnessing such an incident.

“(We) definitely discourage anybody from putting themselves in a situation that they might find themselves potentially being hurt or things of that nature,” Sgt. Owen Conway said.

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Police said the best course of action when witnessing a potential crime is to call 911 and remain on the line, observing the situation and giving as much detail as possible.

Conway added every situation is different, but they never encourage the public to put themselves in harm’s way.

“I think it’s everybody’s human nature to want to help one another,” he added.

Conway said if bystanders have the ability to record a situation and it’s appropriate to do so, police can use the video as a tool.

“Video evidence is obviously always a good thing, whether it be a doorbell camera, or a security camera, smartphones,” he said.

“It just gives us a better picture.”

Rodriguez, shaken up by the incident, said his instincts were to jump in and do something, but doesn’t advise everyone does the same.

“Not everyone has seen or been where I’ve been, or raised the same way I was,” Rodriguez said. “Don’t be a hero.”

Police did not provide further information on the state of the two individuals involved in the altercation.