A store owner trying to make a living and protect his property gets charged for holding the criminal until police comes???
Something is wrong with this picture and it’s another sign of how corrupt our justice system is. Wasting thousands of tax payers dollars prosecuting the innocent store owner and taking him to courts. How is this any different than security at a big chain store apprehending a thief, holding him in a room til police show up???? Or how about a burglar breaking into your home..do nothing but tell the burglar to hold on I’m calling the police????
Anyone charged with a crime and going through the court system knows how daunting it is, this store owner didn’t have to endure all that unnecessary hardship as he was doing the right thing.
Downright absurd! How about going after the real enemies.
Bigger fish to fry!
An odd, momentary hush in the courtroom greeted David Chen’s acquittal of assault and forcible confinement charges on Friday.
The Toronto grocer’s 100 or so supporters were told 90 minutes earlier the judge would not tolerate cheering or booing because “this is not a movie theatre.”
However, Justice Ramez Khawly quipped that once he closes the door behind him, it’s amazing “how quickly I can lose my hearing.”
When that door closed, there was a burst of applause that could be heard all the way to Chen’s shop on Dundas St. W., where this citizen’s arrest case began 17 months ago.
Chen has been called both a vigilante and a people’s champion. He sees himself just as the hard-working owner of the Lucky Moose Food Market.
This decision was seen as a victory not only for Chen but for the Chinese Canadian community, whose members say they feel powerless to stop shoplifting in Chinatown.
“He is a hero to our community,” said Peter Lin, vice-president of the Canada Confederation of Fujian Associations.
Lin said many shop owners report slow police response times, and others don’t even call police when thefts occur.
Chen and two employees were accused of applying excessive force in chasing, tying up and throwing serial shoplifter Anthony Bennett into a delivery van in May 2009, after the thief had shoplifted some items and then returned an hour later.
The judge found that by returning to the store to steal again, Bennett’s crime was a “continuing” theft.
The judge also found that “a moral cynicism” had crept into the Chinese community over reported slow police response times and “David Chen tried to fill the void” by making a citizen’s arrest.
In dismissing all charges, the judge said that after reviewing the key evidence and testimony, it was impossible for him to know exactly what went on that day.
Therefore, the “only conclusion I can come to is that I have a reasonable doubt.” Where there is reasonable doubt, the case must be resolved in favour of the defence, he said.
The Crown said there are no plans to appeal unless a review finds legal errors.
Defence lawyer Peter Lindsay said outside court that “Mr. Chen has expressed to me his frustration of dying the death of a thousand cuts by shoplifters every day. This is a serious problem for shop owners across Toronto and across the country.”
Crown prosecutor Eugene McDermott told reporters that although Bennett is a thief and drug addict, he deserved the same protection as any law-abiding citizen.
“Our system of justice is based upon equal protection by the law of all people, including thieves and drug addicts,” he said. “The best way to protect everyone in society is to guarantee everyone the protection of the law.”
Bennett remains behind bars on unrelated matters.
Chen’s fight against petty theft is far from over. Just one day prior to having his charges dismissed, he caught two women stealing from his store — he reported only one to police and she has been charged.
NDP MP Olivia Chow, who acted as Chen’s interpreter at a news conference on the courthouse steps, urged her fellow MPs to adopt her private member’s bill that would change the Criminal Code to protect people like Chen, when the arrest is made “a reasonable time” after the crime is committed.
After the victory, Chen was back at work and several employees were there to share a toast from a bottle of sparkling wine.
“We are very, very happy,” Yuki Li said while sorting sweet pea shoots. “A huge weight has been lifted.”
“My boss has been dealing with this for more than a year,” added May Liu. “It’s been exhausting.”
Delighted customers also approached Chen throughout the day, congratulating him and shaking his hand.
Jack Richards, a courier from Etobicoke, said he made sure to visit Lucky Moose as soon as he heard the good news.
“What the judge did today is just a blessing,” he told Chen.
Richards tried giving the store owner $20 to put toward his expenses but Chen politely declined.
“I’m okay, I’m okay, I still have the store. I’m good,” Chen said, waving his hands in protest.
Chen said his new strategy is to capture as much photographic evidence as possible for police.
Pulling out his iPhone, Chen scrolled through dozens of photos he’s taken of thieves. One stared brazenly into his camera while eating an apple from his store. Chen has also begun displaying photographs of people caught stealing.
Since May 2009, Chen has installed 16 cameras around Lucky Moose, bringing the total to 48. His security system has cost him about $40,000, he estimates.
When asked how much money he loses every year in stolen merchandise, Chen said there is no way of knowing.
“I’ve lost about $19 just today,” he said. “In the last two days, I probably lost more than $200. How can you even know how much money you’re losing?”