Civilian Recalls Assisting Arrest of Suspect - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/18/05

Civilian Recalls Assisting Arrest of Suspect

Declan Finnerty recalls his experience. Declan Finnerty recalls his experience.
Earlier this week, we told you about a big arrest for Savannah-Chatham police (Civilian Assists in Arrest of Suspect on Most Wanted List).  They caught a man who tried to run over an officer this past June, with the help of an ordinary Savannah citizen.

We spoke with this brave man today. The whole incident lasted less than a minute, but it's an experience Declan Finnerty will  remember for a lifetime.

Finnerty sells insurance for a living, but his day took a dramatic turn on Tuesday. "The young gentleman bailed out of the red Camero about 300 yards in front of my car," he recalled.

That gentleman was Ralphael Williams, wanted for trying to run over a police officer and dealing drugs. Officer Will Fernandez was hot on his tail. Officer Fernandez caught him, but Williams was putting up fight.

"In the laneway was the officer and the suspect struggling, so probably without thinking I pulled into the laneway to help the police officer," Finnerty said. 

"He asked me what he could do," recalled Fernandez. "I said, 'Grab my handcuffs.'"

"I went around the back and I couldn't find his handcuffs," said Finnerty. "So I grabbed [Williams'] arm and that freed up the officer to get his cuffs and he cuffed him.

"What was mind boggling to me was the speed of police," Finnerty added. "I mean, 30 seconds later we were surrounded by 14 police cars."

Finnerty says he had no idea just what he had gotten himself into. "Then the officer and detective started telling me what he did in the past and my heart started pumping a little bit."

Looking back on all that happened, Finnerty says if he had the chance, he'd do it again. "My grandfather was a police officer and it's in my blood," he said. "I nearly was myself back in Ireland. I just did what I thought was the right thing to do and immediately when he was handcuffed, the officer put out his right hand and shook my hand and said thank you and that meant the world to me."

"We don't really condone citizens helping us make an arrest, but at the time I was greatly appreciative," said Fernandez.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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