A security guard who was sent to jail for three weeks for assault on a police officer won an appeal at the Hong Kong High Court on Wednesday.
Court of First Instance Judge Susana Maria D’Almada Remedios withdrew the charges against appellant Ifeanyi-John Osunwoke, a holder of a Hong Kong identity card, and slammed police officers for using excessive force during his arrest, Apple Daily reported.
The appellant worked as a security guard in a pub on D’Aguilar Street in Lan Kwai Fong, Central, on Hong Kong Island.
The trial court heard that on September 13, 2016, five police officers arrived at the pub after receiving a report that Osunwoke had attacked a taxi driver.
Officers struck the security guard with batons, but he grabbed a baton and pushed one of the police officers away before running into a pub and putting down the baton. He was then pepper-sprayed and arrested.
Osunwoke told the trial judge that police at the scene had ordered him to sit down and shut up but had not told him that they would try to arrest him, thus his actions constituted reasonable self-defense.
The magistrate at the trial court said the defendant’s statements were questionable and the police statements were trustworthy. Osunwoke was convicted of two counts of assault on a police officer and was sentenced to three weeks in jail, which he served in full.
Without a representative lawyer, Osunwoke lodged an appeal. The judge reviewed surveillance camera footage and found that the appellant did not show any resistance or struggle during the arrest.
The judge said the footage showed police officers attacking the appellant’s body and right shoulder repeatedly with batons and ordering him to sit down in Cantonese.
The appellant did not resist, made no threatening action and did not attempt to escape, but the officers kept hitting him with their batons.
The judge said she did not see any justification for the use of such force on a subject who did not resist, adding that the appellant had grabbed the baton in legitimate self-defense.
As the police officers did not use force in an orderly manner, the judge said their behavior had been unreasonable and excessive.