Cop recounts pulling 'hysterical' suspect to safety from Rochor Canal

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
Sgt Desmond Heng, 25, speaks to reporters on Tuesday, 2 October 2018. Heng went into Rochor Canal to pull out a drunken suspect. PHOTO: Nicholas Yong/Yahoo News Singapore

The man who allegedly harassed a woman and assaulted a churchgoer at the nearby Church of our Lady of Lourdes was wading in the chest-high waters of Rochor Canal before he was arrested, the police said at a media briefing on Tuesday (2 October).

He had entered the canal via a tunnel from a three-metre-deep drain, after ignoring the first two officers who arrived on the scene.

The 26-year-old was clearly intoxicated and refused a life buoy that was thrown to him. He also submerged himself in the water intermittently and appeared to be moving towards other exits in the canal. Fearing that the suspect might drown, a decision was quickly made by officers to pull him from the waters.

Step forward Sgt Desmond Heng, 25, of Rochor Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC). A strong swimmer, he entered the canal with his uniform on so that the man could recognise him as a police officer.

Sgt Caleb Kok, 24, was on standby on land in case the suspect put up a fight. By this point, a crowd of onlookers had gathered.

“He was hysterical and laughing at the start,” recalled Heng, who was speaking to reporters with other officers involved in the incident at Rochor NPC on Tuesday (2 October). “There was a very strong smell of alcohol on him and he didn’t speak much English.”

Fortunately, the suspect was compliant and police pulled him from the canal within minutes. “We had to hold him in place while the paramedics attended to him (as) he was still struggling,” said Sgt Sharon Ang, 28, who is with the Volunteer Special Constabulary. “I think he (was) in pain from…quite a deep cut on his chin.”

The entire incident was over in about an hour, from the moment the police were first called at 1.27pm. “I cleaned up…and resumed patrol. It’s probably the most unique experience I will ever have,” said Heng, who has been with the Singapore Police Force for less than a year.

(L-R) Sgt Lee Zheng Biao, Inspector Ishak Mohali, Sgt Chong Zhe Ming, Sgt Caleb Kok, Sgt Desmond Heng, Sgt Sharon Ang and Sgt Eunice Sam are among the officers who helped apprehend a suspect from Rochor Canal, posing for photos on Tuesday, 2 October 2018. PHOTO: Nicholas Yong/Yahoo News Singapore

A witness captured a video of Heng’s actions, which went viral. Asked how he felt when he saw the video, he quipped to laughter from his fellow officers, “That I looked very ugly. My hair was just in a mess, a disaster.”

The man was arrested for using abusive words against a public servant, intentional harassment and drunkenness in public places on Saturday.

Among the eight officers who were at the scene was Inspector Ishak Mohali. The 49-year-old said it was the first time that he had had to deploy an officer into the water to deal with such a situation in his 25-year career.

“Usually, (when it comes to water incidents), it’s dead bodies. (This is the first) live one.”

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