LEWISTON – Police generally don’t ask people to get involved with the capture of a suspect. But the circumstances on Wednesday, their familiarity with the suspect and with Sun Journal photographer Russ Dillingham, led them to ask for that help.

They have the law on their side.

According to a section of the Maine legal statutes, a citizen is obliged to assist police in the capture of a suspect, or to help prevent one’s escape, when ordered to do so by an officer.

Dillingham did exactly that Wednesday to help capture fugitive Norman Thompson.

“He was ordered by the officers to grab onto the suspect, and he did,” said Lewiston Deputy Chief Michael Bussiere. “He did a good job. He did the right thing.”

The statute that pertains to citizen-assisted arrests also covers police use of force. Dillingham said he was not aware of that particular law when he tackled and held Thompson until police arrived.

“I think I would have done it anyway,” he said.

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