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Questioning a Witness

to witness (verb): to see something happen
a witness (noun): a person who sees something happen

Witnesses are valuable to the police. A witness is somebody who is actually present when something happens and sees what happens. The police usually like to question all witnesses as soon as possible after a crime, accident or other event.

Questions police ask witnesses

  • Did you see what she was wearing?
  • Did he have a weapon?
  • Was the gun loaded?
  • What kind of car was the thief driving?
  • I will need to get a statement from you.
  • How long ago did this happen?
  • If you think of anything else, please notify us.

Description of a suspect

  • He was wearing sunglasses.
  • He had a mustache.
  • He had a beard.
  • She was dressed in black.
  • She had a baseball cap on.
  • She was wearing gloves.
  • Hair: short, long, shoulder length, curly, straight, spiky, brown, blond, black, red, in a ponytail
  • Body: skinny, fat, chubby, medium build, muscular, tall, short, average height

Sample Conversation

An ESL teacher working in Korea witnesses a bank robbery. The police question her as a witness...

Police: I understand you were the key witness for the robbery.
Woman: Yes, I was the only other person in the bank besides the tellers.
Police: Are you okay to answer some questions for me?
Woman: Sure. I don't know how much help I'll be. He made me get on the ground so I didn't get a very good look at him.
Police: Was he carrying a weapon?
Woman: Yes, he had a pistol in his back pocket. He threatened to use it, but I doubt it was loaded.
Police: What makes you say that?
Woman: He was just a kid. Probably fifteen or younger.
Police: Can you describe him for me?
Woman: He was Asian. Probably five foot six. He was wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses. I can't remember what else he was wearing.
Police: Did he talk directly to you? I mean, did he ask you for your money or anything?
Woman: No, he just told me to get on the ground. That's all I know. I'm running late for a class. Is it okay if I go now?
Police: I just want to get your name and phone number. If you think of anything else, please notify us.

Check your understanding

1 Why is the policeman questioning the woman?
2 Which of the following does not describe the robber?
3 What does the woman say the thief was carrying?

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