Bernard Corbeil, Quebec City lawyer, on trial for assault in citizen's arrest

A Quebec City lawyer on trial for assault after making a citizen’s arrest of a neighbour he believed was stealing cat food left outside says his use of force was reasonable.

Corbeil used zip ties to bind hands and feet of neighbour he believed was stealing cat food

Highlights from security camera video of Bernard Corbeil's citizen's arrest of a neighbour he believed was stealing cat food. 0:58

A Quebec City lawyer on trial for common assault after making a citizen’s arrest says he was within his rights to use zip ties to restrain the hands and feet of a neighbour he believed was stealing cat food left outside his door.

Police were called to Bernard Corbeil’s home in February 2013 to take a woman into custody.

Corbeil's trial heard that he planned the capture when he became fed up with cat food constantly disappearing after it was set outside his door.

His neighbour, however, said that rather than stealing the food, she was removing it because it made her cats sick.

Officers called to Corbeil's home found the alleged thief with a bloodied face, her hands and feet bound by plastic zip ties.

Security camera video shows the 65-year-old lawyer throwing a towel over the woman’s head and then forcing her to the ground face down.

In the video, Corbeil uses his knees to pin the woman while he restrains her hands and feet with zip ties brought to him by his wife from inside the house.

Bernard Corbeil is a Quebec City lawyer who used zip ties to make a citizen's arrest of his neighbour, whom he accused of trying to steal cat food. He is on trial for assault over the incident. (Radio-Canada)

The video is now serving as evidence against the lawyer in his trial, which began Tuesday and resumes Dec. 5.

A question of limits

The Crown prosecutor says Corbeil went beyond the limits imposed by the Criminal Code on citizen’s arrests.

Corbeil is defending himself at his trial and alleges the woman is a thief.

He maintains that the force he used in his citizen's arrest was within reason.

New rules for citizen's arrests introduced by the federal government in 2013 say someone acting in protection of themselves, family or property won't face criminal sanction provided their actions are "reasonable" under the circumstances.

However, it's up to courts to decide the boundaries of what actions are reasonable.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.