Cop Stops Rape in Progress, Suspect Arrested After Hunt

By Richard Brenneman
Friday September 29, 2006

An alert Berkeley Police officer caught a rapist in the act Wednesday afternoon, leading to a chase and manhunt that ended with the suspect’s arrest. 

Officer Katie Smith was patrolling the Santa Fe Railroad tracks about 3:30 p.m., responding to citizen complaints of homeless encampments in the area, said department spokesperson Officer Ed Galvan. 

Smith was walking just north of the Addison Street crossing when she saw a man atop a struggling woman. Spotting the officer, the rapist got to his feet and began running with Smith in pursuit. 

The officer radioed for assistance and about 20 officers responded, sealing off the surrounding area as they began a manhunt. 

The suspect was finally located hiding under a car near a grocery outlet near University Avenue, said Officer Galvan. 

“The suspect refused to identify himself,” said Galvan. Another officer involved in the pursuit described him as extremely combative. 

The struggles continued after the man was driven to the county jail at Santa Rita. 

Police obtained a warrant to search his clothing and body for evidence that could link him to the victim, described as a Berkeley woman about 40 years old. 

“It took about five or six officers to hold him down,” said one officer who asked not to be named. Galvan confirmed that account. 

“We still don’t have his ID,” the police spokesperson said Thursday afternoon. 

Both Galvan and the unnamed patrol officer praised Smith for her alertness. 

“It was a one-in-a-million thing, catching a rape in progress,” Galvan said. 

“It was a great job of police work,” said the patrol officer. 

The suspect has been booked on suspicion of rape. 

Galvan said the tracks are usually patrolled by the railroad, which has its own private police force. Citizen complaints resulted in the foot patrol assignment that brought Officer Smith to the tracks Wednesday and led to the arrest.