Many people in the Ottawa area are discussing how active a role citizens ought to take in the protection of our community and our fellow citizens.
Let me set the stage:
Two men were driving down a road, in a hurry (as they were late for a Kim Mitchell concert). A woman jumped onto the road in front of them – they almost hit her. Since she appeared not to be in perfect control of herself (the men thought she was drunk), they stopped in order to make sure she’d be OK. She wasn’t…
This is where the situation takes a turn towards the surreal: the young woman was hysterically screaming into her cell-phone, talking to 9-1-1,saying she had just been sexually assaulted. Our two men immediately offered her assistance.
The woman was not perfectly coherent: she had just been through something horrible, was bleeding… not exactly composed (screaming hysterically, as the 9-1-1 dispatcher put it). Understandable… But, she did convey to ‘or guys’ that her attacker was an acquaintance who was giving her a ride home, that he raped her and tried to choke her to death, and was sitting in that car over there!
The man she indicated started yelling rude insults at her and threatening to kill her and ‘put her in a cornfield’…. and appeared to take a drink from a bottle of Tequila. Then he drove off.
Please, keep in mind that in Ontario, if you see someone drinking (alcohol) and driving, the law says you are to make a ‘citizen’s arrest’. This is a bit of an ‘aside’, but it is important to the way the events unfolded.
‘Our guys’ took the injured woman into their car and, using her cell-phone to talk to the 9-1-1 dispatcher, they followed the man who had just they had just witnessed drinking and driving – and whom they heard threatening to kill the distressed woman.
This is where the controversy comes in: many people have condemned the young men for chasing after the attacker!
The whole discussion is hardly helped by a very ‘misleading’ (according to the lawyer for one of the protectors) article about this event in the Ottawa Citizen: today, I was listening to CFRA (an Ottawa radio station) when the lawyer for Ryan O’Connor called in and filled in some information. (And, yes, it is ‘reporting’ like this that drives people away from the mainstream media… It seems obvious that to them, this is no more than ‘just a story’… so the reporting is either unbelievably shoddy or intentionally misleading!)
OK – I heard the interview live, so I do not have a link to support my assertions (soon to follow). Still, the lawyer (whose name escaped me) said his version of events would be brought out when the 9-1-1 transcripts will be released, so I am trusting that I heard things ‘right’.
The article asserts the woman knew her attacker and his name. Well, he was an acquaintance – someone she had seen around. And, he told her his first name. I think that when a ‘familiar stranger’ – a person you know by sight, but little else – tells you his first name, it really ought not be reported as ‘the woman knew her attacker and his name’. There is a serious difference between the two!
Also, there was the assertion (in the article as well as in much of the commentary that followed) that the man’s identity was clear because they noted his car’s license plate number.
Who said it was his car? It could have been stolen. It could have been borrowed. It could have been just about anything! Claiming one could ‘prove’ the man’s identity by the license plate on his car is so idiotic, I don’t even know where to begin. Jumping to conclusions without considering what evidence you actually have is bad – but when lives are at stake, it is inexcusable!
People have been condemning the two men who helped the victim, for a whole slew of reasons:
It turns out they were driving a Porsche – so they must obviously be bored rich kids looking for an excuse to live out a Hollywood – style high speed chase!
The fact that they were helping a woman in obvious distress, that they had abandoned their plans to go to a concert (the tickets to which they had already bought) and helped a woman who was hurt in body and spirit – that little fact did not seem to matter to these petty complainers! Nor did they seem to care that ‘our guys’ were well within the law to attempt to execute a citizen’s arrest on a drunk driver…
One of the two men turned out to be Matt Spezza – a brother of a very popular NHL hockey player on our local team, the Ottawa Senators. The amount of venom this brought out in people – the ‘you know, he has a famous big brother so he thinks he’s God’ sentiment… that truly sickened me. Why are people so warped and steeped in envy? Does it not eat away at them?
The car chase reached ‘high speed’ at some points. This means that they endangered themselves, the woman they were trying to help – and everyone else in the city! They could have hit someone! They just wanted to be heroes! (A woman said that last sentence at a call-in show. She spat it out with such hate, as if wanting to be a hero was the most disgusting thing EVER!)
Yes, they could have hit someone. But they didn’t. The chase did reach ‘high speeds’ of 160 km/h (some reports go up as high as 170 km/h). Not ‘Autobahn’ speed, mind you, but this is Canada! We don’t think people ought to drive faster than a horse-buggy goes….you know, it could be dangerous! The fact that the driver actually races cars – and would be quite capable of handling these speeds – seemed to only pour oil onto the fire of indignation against him!
Oh – and the driver continued to talk to the 9-1-1 operator while he chased the baddie: talking on cell-phones while driving is bad!
Yeah! He was talking to the 9-1-1 people! As in, following their instructions…and, are our 9-1-1 operators not experts specially trained to assess the dangers of a wide range of situations? And did not this expert assess the situation and decide that the danger of pursuit was ‘the lesser evil’ than unleashing a homicidal drunk on the public? (By the way – this dispatcher has also been much maligned….before all the facts are known!)
They knew the attacker’s name and had his license number: there was no need for a chase! The cops could have just gone to his home and arrested him there!
Oh, like he was just going to orderly drive home? Or, perhaps, he was going to drive to the nearest police station and respectfully request to be arrested? And then kiss some babies and donate to charity, too!
EVEN IF they knew exactly who he was (and, by now, the guys chasing the baddie and the 9-1-1 operator knew that the man did not own the car he was driving and that the victim knew nothing about him except his first name), LETTING HIM GO would have simply meant some other woman was going to be murdered that night.
This was a guy who was trying to live out a sadistic ‘rape-murder’ fantasy – and got interrupted half way through. He was still high – on adrenalin, for sure, other stuff perhaps… and his reaction to having the victim snatched out of his grasp showed unabated rage!
Had the good guys not pursued him, he would – most likely – have snatched another person and carried out his murderous fantasy!
The cops certainly did not join in the chase – it was not until 15 minutes after the chase started that the cops got involved, stopping the suspect at a roadblock. As in, no police helicopter. No police cars or motorcycles joined the chase.
The baddie would have had 15 minutes (at least) to disappear! During those 15 minutes, the suspect could have reached a spot where he could have abducted another victim, and then hidden away in some secluded area (the road on which the fist victim was assaulted borders the Green Belt: an area filled with ‘nature paths’ and quiet, dark, secluded parking lots).
Yet, those who think it is unacceptable for citizens to take any action to protect themselves, that it is solely the job of the police (must be a union thing) – these people have won. Today, the police chief announced that in the future, no citizen is allowed to lift a finger to help. Anyone. Ever!
Nobody expects the police to be able to be everywhere, right away. It is not physically possible. So, next time you see a crime in progress – just keep on walking! It’s none of your business.
Found a loophole in the laws, which might let you help save a life? Don’t worry, we’ll soon have those loopholes plugged!