10.04.2010 09:10 AM

Support David Chen now

David Chen is my hero. He should be yours, too.

Last year, David – a 35-year-old Toronto restaurant employee – spotted a creep on a bike stealing a box of plants. The same character had been stealing stuff from people and businesses in the Chinatown area for a while. Everyone knew who he was and what he was doing.

David spotted the guy later that same Saturday, and he confronted him. The guy dropped his bike and took off. David chased after him with two other restaurant employees. When they got him, they tied him up by his hands and feet, put him in a delivery truck and immediately contacted police. They made a citizen’s arrest.

But when the cops arrived at the Lucky Moose Food Mart, everyone – including David and the two other guys, along with the thief – was arrested and charged. The three grocers were charged with assault and kidnapping; the man on the bike was charged with theft. David was kept in jail overnight. The crook, however, was promptly released on bail.

Lots of shopkeepers and customers in Chinatown have been pretty upset with what has happened to David, and they should be. They’ve told the media the area is plagued with petty theft, but that the police often don’t get there fast enough, or at all. The police and the Crown’s office (one of the worst in the country, in my view) have been dancing on the head of a legal pin, saying what David Chen did wasn’t really a citizen’s arrest because, um, er, it wasn’t a “continuous event,” your Honour. That’s B.S.

Section 494 of the Criminal Code allows “anyone” to make an arrest “without warrant” if they believe someone has committed a criminal offence. Sounds like what David did, doesn’t it? Check.

The section further provides that the citizen “shall forthwith deliver the person to a peace officer.” David did that, too. Check.

The whole thing seems to turn on the fact that the bad guy was not being “freshly pursued” by the good guys. What does “freshly pursued” mean? Beats me. “Fresh” is a word you can apply to any edible product, in any circumstance, without being arrested. But in David Miller’s Toronto, “fresh” has to mean “continuous,” or someone is going to charge you with kidnapping and a bunch of other stuff, too.

As you guys know, I’m not a law-and-order maniac. As a past member of the executive of various provincial and federal law associations, I actually love the genius of the law. But, in this case, I would have to admit that the law is, indeed, an ass.  And politicians from all parries – Liberal Joe Volpe, Conservative Jason Kenney, NDPer Olivia Chow – apparently agree, and have shown their strong support for David.  Everyone should.

David Chen, meanwhile, is my hero.  He’s in court again today for his trial.  Please drop by to show him support.

And sign the petition supporting him here!


  1. Will M. says:

    Yeah, insane.

    Drop any and all charges against Mr. Chen.

    • mjbad says:

      Paleeese consella. Stop the BS.
      Why did Chen tape him and trying to drive away. His shop he says. But we dont know that.
      I applaud crown for bringing the charges and also recommend he get slap on the wrist.
      Mr. Cost of doing business is theft. Dont put anything outside the shop.

  2. Brian says:

    Dropping the charges is not enough. Give him a medal. And an apology from the government on behalf of sane people everywhere.

  3. Dana says:

    Was the thief a white guy? Cops too? Crown too?


  4. Paul R. Martin says:

    This is the same Toronto police force that pleads for help from citizens, yet thinks that citizens do not have the right to catch thieves by themselves.

  5. Namesake says:

    The fed govt’ isn’t interested unless it was unreported crime

  6. Paul R. Martin says:

    Conservatives are supposed to be in favour of law and order; however, I am surprised that no political candidates have called for the present Toronto Chief of Police to be fired. He seems to have been rather heavy handed in several instances.

  7. Andrew says:

    Wouldn’t it be better to write to the Minister in question to a) change the laws, b)have the charges stayed?

  8. Ridiculous that this man is being dragged through the wringer like this. And, as kyliep says, I’d wager next time citizens will choose the deal with it themselves” route. I’ve seen it happen here with a repeat B&E offender, he’d get caught, courts would turn him loose, next day he’s back breaking into peoples places. One time he broke into a house while a lady was home alone bathing her toddler. That was enough, a few people threw a blanked over him one night, took him for a drive, “warned” him about ever showing his face again and that was the end of it, break-ins stopped.

    This is what decades of left wing social engineering gets you..


  9. Rome says:

    I’m on Mr. Chen’s side, as long as his evidence is irrefutable. Or, he caught the perp in the act.

    However, saying this is “in David Miller’s Toronto” is a cheap shot. The laws on citizen’s arrest are in the criminal code which has nothing to do with City Hall. Mentioning the Mayor here is weak.

  10. Ariella says:

    I feel conflicted on this one. By the sound of the news stories I’ve heard, the key issue in the trial is not the timing of the citizen’s arrest but the allegation that Chen used excessive force and roughed the shoplifter up. The National Use of Force Model applies to civilians as well as police. We can’t very well castigate the G20 cops for stomping about and speaking to people in an unfriendly manner, and then turn around and give civilians carte blanche to beat people up. I’ll be interested to see how the trial actually shakes out when all the evidence about the incident is presented.

  11. JC says:

    Just off the top of my head, one reason the “freshness” is an important consideration is what I might call the evil twin problem. My evil twin shoplifts, is spotted by the shopkeeper, but gets away. A few hours later I walk by the same store. Quite quickly, I am attacked by a few guys, and I have my hands and feet bound and I’m tossed into a van, the police are called, etc.. Now, it’s one thing for the police to make that sort of mistake on a suspect (and they do, and they’re routinely sued for it), but it’s a whole different matter for a civilian to make that error.

    And it’s not just “evil twins” – more likely is a simple mistaken identity. Sure, in this case Mr Chen was correct. This won’t be the case in all such cases, though. Alas, leave it to the pros … unless it’s “fresh” … but then you’ve got to worry about assault charges and all that.

  12. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Please correct me if I’m wrong but:

    a) is Chinatown either “the” or at least, one of the most frequently targeted areas for shoplifting?

    b) where are the closest police resources? Let me see, looking at this logically — a precinct should be located…Eureka, I’ve got it, right in the heart of Chinatown. Elementary, my dear Blair.

  13. Derek Pearce says:

    Warren Kinsella, quoted at 1:42pm: “Once the Crown has the file, NO POLITICIAN can do much, in my experience.” And yet, as I noted before back springtime when the whole travesty first occurred (I’m on Chen’s side totally here), Warren insists again on using the phrase “in David Miller’s Toronto…” Again, WK, you know the current Mayor (or any Mayor) has nothing whatsoever to do with directing individual beat cops or specifically their actions in this case, so again, I don’t get this weird tangential dig at him. Jaysus, and as before, I’m not a Millerite, but this disingenuous little aside is just.. what is your major malfunction? This kind of random “Miller=lawlessness=bad” is a Fordism, and doesn’t help Rossi one milligram (if that even is your roundabout aim…)

    • Warren says:

      Miller’s guy, Blair, iniatiated what happened to David, for Chrissakes

      • James Bow says:

        And the crown is pursuing it. They have as great an ability to put a stop to this silliness, but they appear to be choosing not to. If we follow through on your premise, then Dalton McGuinty shares the same culpability as David Miller, surely.

        And as I said elsewhere, I could see this happening under Fantino. The police, in general, have a clear worry about vigilantism and it is easy to see them overreact.

  14. hitfan says:

    The police are not your friend.

    A police officer’s competence is not based on the concept of “protecting the public”, but by the number of arrests and charges they lay. And tickets they give out. When David Chen called the police and they arrived on the scene, they saw a goldmine in arresting both David Chen and his friends for kidnapping and assault along with the perp for theft.

    Hopefully, with the police unions blanket support of the gun registry, the Conservatives will back off on their pro-law and order fanaticism.

    And hopefully a competent defense lawyer will be able to successfully argue that David Chen acted completely within the limits and auspices of the Criminal Code of Canada when he made his citizen’s arrest.

    An ex-police officer wrote an honest “tell all” book a few years ago about the police racket — they purposely go after poor minorities for making arrests and laying charges not because of any ingrained prejudice, but because they tend to be easier marks (poor whites are just as inclined to commit petty crimes, but they are more aware of their rights). As well, with more arrests and charges given, police officers are paid overtime for appearing in court. In the case of David Chen, those police officers who arrested and charged him will be collecting extra overtime pay because of that.

    It’s all about the money.

  15. Ayu says:

    Hi Warren I was in the Angelo’s class on Monday. Thanks for coming to speak to us. I have been following the news of David Chen. It has caused a lot of awareness in the Chinese community. I’m glad to see it gets mainstream awareness by people like you. Too often mainstream media tends to neglect unjustice happening in visable minority communities.

  16. Tina Propper says:

    what a travesty of jutice, he’s a hero and he has to spend thousands to defend himself. the little thief is getting star treatment,whic nut is running the phsyc ward.Shame on toronto police, are they getting free flowers from the theif,must be.

  17. Robert says:

    I think all the laws are to protect fairness and justice.I think the CROWN is silly in the way it interpret the law.

    First, David Chen’s catching the thief is not the same as person A catching person B on the street for no reason. Second, the catching is a continuing part of stopping theft in his store. If David Chen has the right to stop theft in his store, he should have the right to chase the thief when the thief refuses to stay in store waiting for police officers come to the site, David chen should have the right to hold the thief’s arm if the thief refuses to wait for police officers come to handle the case.

    Someone may argue that the thief has HUMAN RIGHT. Yes, he has his right, but when his right violeted other people’s right, the thief’s should LOST part of his right. He stole other’s porperties, then he should lost part of his freedom right and remain in the site when is asked till police officer come to handle. If he runs away, he should lost part of his right and should allow others to hold his arms….tape him , and driving back…..

    I think mjbad is silly! Mjbad ask “Why did Chen tape him and trying to drive away”? Mjbad should know the reason. Mjbad said “Dont put anything outside the shop”, I would tell Mjbad “dont put anything out of your house, put your car, garbage cans bicycles all inside your house or apartment, don’t even put them on balcony”.

    mjbad says:
    October 11, 2010 at 11:03 am
    Paleeese consella. Stop the BS.
    Why did Chen tape him and trying to drive away. His shop he says. But we dont know that.
    I applaud crown for bringing the charges and also recommend he get slap on the wrist.
    Mr. Cost of doing business is theft. Dont put anything outside the shop.

  18. Lindsay says:

    This is so stupid.
    How many times does this poor man need to be stolen from for Police to do something?
    Police weren’t doing anything so he took it into his own hands…..get it?
    Give you heads a shake!!!

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