Off-duty police officer rescues woman from attack on NW Side

Officer Nicole Martin

UIC Police Officer Nicole Martin

UIC Police Officer Nicole Martin was in the right place at the right time Sunday, rescuing a 19-year-old woman who’d just been sexually assaulted by the woman’s ex-boyfriend.

“I wasn’t concerned about what was going to happen to me. I just wanted to see that she got out of the vehicle and was helped,” said Martin, who was treated for injuries after the incident.

Driving home from work, Martin was in an alley in Norwood Park when she heard a scream, said UIC Interim Police Chief Frank Cappitelli.

Cappitelli said the suspect, Diego Rodriguez, 20, had choked his former girlfriend in his car until she was unconscious, then sexually assaulted her and again choked her until she blacked out. After she revived, Rodriguez drove into an alley behind his home and taped the victim’s mouth. He was trying to bind her wrists when she saw Martin and screamed.

After announcing she was a police officer, Martin grabbed the victim and tried to pull her out of the car, police said. Both women were thrown from the vehicle when Rodriguez drove off. Rodriguez later was arrested and charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated domestic battery, aggravated battery to a police officer and unlawful restraint.

“This was a very heroic act” on Martin’s part, Cappitelli said. “She went into this situation without backup.”

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