Hong Kong police have charged a schoolboy who was shot in the chest during a protest in Tsuen Wan on Tuesday with rioting and assault. But video footage suggests that police may have seized a different weapon to the one the 18-year-old carried.
On Tuesday night, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung said the young man who was arrested held “a sharpened object” and attacked an officer on the ground together with other protesters.
During the police press conference on Wednesday, deputy commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung said the student held an “iron pole” when he attacked an officer.
But various video footage captured by local media outlets shows that the student surnamed Tsang, was wielding a white “pole-like object” when he hit the arm of the police officer who pointed his gun at two other protesters.
People believe it was not an “iron-pole” or a “sharpened object” as the police top brass have claimed.
After being shot in the chest, Tsang collapsed on the ground while holding the white pole.
Another protester came forward and tried to take the white pole but failed – he was subdued by another policeman.
The white pole then fell on the ground next to Tsang, who began asking for help as blood started coming from his chest. It was several minutes before a police officer checked his status and received first-aid treatment some minutes later.
Video footage shows police in plainclothes collecting evidence at the scene. An officer in a white-T-shirt seized a blue swimming board that Tsang used as a shield, plus a helmet and face mask.
Then when a riot police officer tried to pick up the white pole on the ground next to Tsang, then another officer in a black T-shirt passed him a longer, darker colored pole.
The cop in the white T-shirt held these weapons and left. But more footage from local broadcaster nowNews and CableTV shows that the white pole was still lying on the ground when Tsang was sent to hospital after police had cordoned off the scene.
When the reporters returned to the site an hour later, the white pole was gone.
Ming Pao Daily quoted an unmanned police source as saying that the white pole is an “iron pole”, adding that evidence collected by police at the scene aimed to show “the riot scene”, and the evidence may not be directly linked with the arrested student.
Rules on weapons eased
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that police relaxed their guidelines on the use of weapons in dangerous situations, with amendments made to the “Force Procedures Manual” on September 30 – the day before violent clashes erupted across the city on National Day, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.
Before the guidelines were changed, officers had to ascertain whether an assailant had the intention to cause death or serious injury before lethal force could be used.
But the revised version is said to stipulate that officers can fire live rounds when facing an assault that causes, or is “relatively likely” to cause death or serious injury.
The internal document also reportedly downgrades some weapons – such as extendable batons, rubber bullets and water cannons – as being “non-lethal” weapons, although they were all categorized as being more serious before.
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said he was concerned that the revisions could lead to weapons being used more often by officers.
On Thursday, people joined “flash-mob” protests in at least 11 districts to show their support with the shot student. They gathered mainly in shopping malls and chanted slogans.
In Taikoo, tear gas was fired on King’s Road near Kornhill – a middle-class area on eastern Hong Kong Island, after riot police detained a man. A Japanese woman dressed in a kimono approached a line of riot police, but she was pepper-sprayed and pushed down by one of the officers.