PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) — When officers responded to a call for service on Aug. 15, they were met with a man handcuffed to a truck and another man saying he just performed a “citizens arrest.” The suspect, Nicholas Quintana, was suspected of stealing tools from a local Home Depot.
The arresting citizen, Luke Wodiuk, told police he was alerted of the suspected theft and “knew he had to take action.” Wodiuk reportedly chased the suspect and, after catching him, handcuffed him and brought him to his truck. Then, they both waited for the police to arrive.
The responding officers gave Quintana a ticket. After being detained for a few minutes, Quintana was released and left.
The officer told 13 Investigates they had to look up whether or not Wodiuk faced criminal charges for detaining Quintana.
One of the officers said he had never responded to a citizen’s arrest call before.
According to Colorado statute 16-3-21, “a person who is not a peace officer may arrest another person when any crime has been or is being committed by the arrested person in the presence of the person making the arrest.”
The law continues by saying, “a private citizen may use ‘reasonable and appropriate physical force upon another when and to the extent, he reasonably believes it necessary to effect an arrest.”
“I just did what I had to do. I saw these guys were stealing tools and I think all the citizens of Pueblo are tired of it and it just feels like nothing is being done about it,” Wodiuk told 13 Investigates. “These criminals are just wreaking havoc all over this town and I said ah let’s get ’em.”
Wodiuk said he never harmed Quintana, but felt it was necessary to detain him so that police could respond in time to issue him a ticket.
“I knew under Colorado law that there is a citizens arrest law and I was never worried about doing that. I wasn’t there to harm the guy or hurt the guy,” Wodiuk said. “I just wanted to catch that guy that’s doing this so that the cops could identify him, take a picture or give him a ticket or take him to jail. That way we know who’s doing this stuff.”
Colorado Springs defense attorney Jeremy Loew told 13 Investigates citizens should err on the side of caution when deciding to get involved in a crime.
“You have to be almost certain that a crime was committed and that you personally observed it to make a citizen’s arrest,” Loew said. “If you are making a stopover some tools and someone pulls a gun or knife, then are those tools really worth it,” he questioned.
Loew says citizens cannot conduct their own investigation into a crime occurring, they must see it occur to make a proper arrest.
“They have to make sure that they observe the crime, making sure that a crime is actually committed,” Loew said. “The last thing the state of Colorado wants is people apprehending innocent people.”
Despite having done nothing wrong in this instance, Wodiuk said he does not encourage people to do this in their everyday life. He repossesses cars for a living and is experienced in dealing with potentially dangerous situations.
“Everyone is frustrated with what’s going on. Criminals are running out of stores. They are stealing stuff and stealing cars,” Wodiuk said. “I decided to take it upon myself to throw on my vest and engage in a foot chase so we can catch who is doing this.”