Off-Duty Officer Intervenes in Subway Attack, Makes Arrest

Arshad Khan

An off-duty Toronto Police officer on his way to work ended a spree of random assaults on the streetcar and subway arresting a woman alleged to have been armed with a glass bottle.

During the Monday, December 19 rush hour, Detective James Thompson was on a southbound subway car on his way to police headquarters where he works in the Sex Crimes Unit.

“As the train pulled away from Davisville station I  heard loud screams and the sounds of a commotion coming from my right,” said the 18-year veteran who works as plainclothes investigator. “When I looked over I observed a female passenger bleeding heavily from her face.”

It’s alleged another woman had struck her in the face with a large whiskey bottle without provocation. When she tried to flee, running past Thompson, he reached out and grabbed her and placed her on the ground.

After a brief struggle, Thompson identified himself as a police officer and arrested the woman.

“After speaking with the agitated woman for a number of minutes she calmed down considerably and I was able to keep her from getting worked up again,” he said. “During that time, the injured woman was escorted off the train when it stopped at St. Clair station and I directed a passenger to press the Passenger Assistance Alarm.”

Though unable to treat the injured victim because he had the woman under arrest, Thompson was struck by the empathy of the other passengers who cared for the victim.

“Normally when you are on the subway, people have their heads down and they ignore things that happen around them,” he said. “In this case, people got up and came to the injured woman’s aid. They applied pressure to her wound, helped take her off the train and sat with her on the platform until paramedics arrived. With all of the chaos, that was extremely remarkable.”

He later learned the woman he arrested was alleged to have attacked six other people on a streetcar, subway platforms and trains over the preceding 45 minutes.

Five of the victims, who were both men and women, were struck in the head with a bottle.

She faces 15 charges including assault cause bodily harm, assault with a weapon and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and breach of probation.

Detective Thompson was invited to meet with Chief Myron Demkiw and commended for his bravery and quick action.

“Detective Thompson represents the best of what our officers do every day, both on and off duty. In this case, he was off duty when he saw a threat to the safety of the public and immediately jumped into action. He safely restrained the suspect and prevented further harm to his fellow passengers. I was proud to hear about his brave actions that day and wanted to personally thank him for putting himself in harm’s way, once again, to ensure the safety of others in our city,” Chief Demkiw said.

“I met with James in my office and I was impressed, but not surprised, by his humility and courage. When I asked him what happened that day, he barely spoke about his involvement in the incident. Instead he took the opportunity to tell me how impressed he was with, what he described as ‘Toronto the Good.’ Rather than highlighting his role in bring this incident to a safe conclusion, and preventing other passengers from becoming victims, James shared with me what others did that day to assist him and the victim.

“Detective Thompson’s actions – and his comment about ‘Toronto the good’ – really stuck with me because the day I met with him was my first full day as Chief of Police. His actions and words reminded me how lucky we all are to live in a city where there are so many incredibly selfless police officers and residents willing to help each other out, especially in times of need,” the Chief said. “It is through heroic actions of like this, and everyday interactions within our communities, that we will continue to enhance public trust and create an even safer city.”

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