Citizens’ Arrests Gone Wrong

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A 36-year-old Perth man is a tragic casualty of a citizen’s arrest gone wrong.

The man was allegedly breaking into cars before a group of men spotted him. He ran away but they caught up with him near the Hyde Park Hotel, where he began having convulsions during the struggle. He was held by the other men until police showed up.

The man was lying on his stomach when police arrive. Police then handcuffed him, but when they went to turn him over, they discovered that he was not breathing, and had visible facial injuries. Police started CPR, and although the man was revived and taken to Perth Hospital, he eventually succumbed.

A witness in a nearby shop alleges that before the three men intervened, the man had been walking along the street and smashing car windows with a hammer. He described the man as a “maniac”.

No charges have yet been laid against the arresting men, although the Coroner now holding an inquest into the matter.

Other Citizen’s Arrest Gone Wrong

Of concern is the fact that this is the second fatality during a citizen’s arrest within a four-week period in Perth alone.

The other involved a 50-year-old man who returned home from walking his dog to find a number of men acting suspiciously. The man gave chase, catching and restraining a 30-year-old man. But when police arrived, they found the younger man suffering from injuries and took him to hospital, where he later died.

And Perth is not the only Australian state to see fatalities resulting from citizens’ arrests.

One Queensland father, 34-year-old Amit Kumar, died after being restrained by five men and one woman after he allegedly punched a female staff member of a boat charter company.

The group used zip-ties to restrain Mr Kumar, despite his repeated cries that he could not breathe. Despite the fact that he urinated and vomited, a witness heard someone say they thought he was “playing possum.”

No one was charged despite the Coroner’s finding that the group “contributed” to Mr Kumar’s death.

What is a Citizen’s Arrest?

Any member of the public can make a citizen’s arrest in NSW – in certain circumstances.

Section 100 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act states that a person (who is not a police officer) can arrest another person in three situations:

  1. If the other person is committing an offence;
  2. If the other person has just committed an offence; or
  3. If the other person has previously committed a ‘serious indictable offence’ (ie an offence punishable by 5 years imprisonment or more) for which they have not been tried.

Anyone who instigates a citizen’s arrest must bring the person they arrested, and any property found on the person, to an “authorised officer” as soon as is reasonably practicable. An authorised officer is a Magistrate, registrar or an employee of the Attorney General’s Department.

However, performing a citizen’s arrest when there are no legitimate grounds to do so is risky – and it is not a good idea to be over-enthusiastic about performing one. If you arrest someone without justifiable cause, you could be facing charges yourself – including assault charges – and you could additionally face a civil claim for false imprisonment and deprivation of liberty.

Author Image

About Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Sydney’s Leading Firm of Criminal & Traffic Defence Lawyers.

Leave a Comment