A 22-year-old university student who was seriously injured in a protest in Hong Kong early on Monday morning died on Friday. It is the first confirmed protest-related fatality since the unrest plaguing Hong Kong began in June.
Chow Tsz-lok, who studied at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, was pronounced dead at Queen Elizabeth Hospital at 8 am.
It was reported that he fell from the third floor to the second floor of a car park in Sheung Tak Estate in the New Territories East at around 1 am while over a hundred riot police were firing tear gas canisters at masked protesters and residents at the junction of Tong Ming Street and Tong Chun Street. When he died, he was in a coma after suffering a brain hemorrhage and a pelvic fracture.
Link Asset Management Ltd, which operates the car park, released 10 segments of CCTV footage on Wednesday.
According to the footage, there were only a few people in the car park between midnight and 1:30 am. At 12:46 am, a CCTV video showed a masked person wearing a black cap apparently pushing another person while they were walking on the south side of the car park on the second floor. It was not clear whether the one being “pushed” was Chow.
At 1:02 am, a video showed a black-shirted person walk up from the second floor to the third floor. Within the same minute, a little flash was seen on the second floor, where Chow was later located. At 1:06 pm, a masked person led two firefighters to Chow. At 1:15 pm, dozens of riot police arrived, but they left one minute later as firefighters were handling the situation.
Some netizens said they suspected that the person wearing the black cap could have been an undercover or off-duty police officer who may have attacked Chow and pushed him. Some said Chow had no need to climb down from the third floor to the second floor as a stairway was next to him. Even if he had climbed down and slipped, his injuries were more serious than would be expected under the circumstances.
The police said in a media briefing on Friday afternoon that its regional crime unit in Kowloon East district was handling the case. They said Chow was not one of the two people who were seen in the video at 12:46 am as he was wearing different clothes. They said the two people were actually walking in parallel and that no one was pushed. Chow was seen wandering alone on the south side of the car park on the second floor between 12:38 and 12:49 am.
He left the car park at 1:00 am and reentered it at 1:01 am. He was last seen in a video at 1:02 am when he walked from the second floor to the third floor, according to the police. The police said no undercover or plainclothes police were deployed at that time. Riot police entered the car park between 11:06 pm and 11:20 pm on Sunday, after which Chow was found injured.
The police recommended that the Coroner’s Court investigate Chow’s death. The police also advised the public against attending any illegal assembly related to Chow’s death.
Late on Sunday evening, a small crowd protested outside a police officer’s wedding banquet at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Tseung Kwan O. After about 100 riot police were deployed to disperse them, a larger crowd gathered in Sheung Tak Estate and took a stand against the police. Masked people blocked the roads and threw bricks while police fired numerous rounds of tear gas between midnight and 2 am.
The police entered Kwong Ming Court without a warrant and fired tear gas at the residential buildings. They were urged to leave by the corporation that owns the property.
Police block ambulance
After the firemen located Chow, they requested an ambulance at 1:11 am. However, the ambulance was blocked by three police cars. Three paramedics had to get out of the ambulance and walk to the car park. They arrived at the scene at 1:30 am and took the student to hospital 11 minutes later. The ambulance reached the hospital at 1:59 am.
Members of the Student Union of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) urged Wei Shyy, vice chancellor of the university, to urge the government to investigate the case and condemn the police for blocking the ambulance. They quoted Chow’s family as saying they would like to thank the people of Hong Kong for their support and encouragement over the past few days.
Shyy, who was hosting the university’s graduation ceremony on Friday, led a one-minute silent remembrance for Chow. He left the ceremony early to visit Chow’s family at the hospital.
In a statement offering its condolences to the family, HKUST also urged students to remain calm. It said they should “avoid further clashes and tragedy.” Meanwhile, a group of masked students protested on the campus. Some of them vandalized a Maxim’s restaurant and a Starbucks coffee shop, whose franchisee in Hong Kong also owns Maxim’s.
James To Kun-sun, a Democratic Party lawmaker, called for Chief Executive Carrie Lam to set up an independent commission of inquiry.
At noon on Friday, thousands of Hongkongers gathered on the streets of Central and Mong Kok to silently remember Chow. They also held memorial events on Friday evening.
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong urged people to wear black to mourn Chow on Saturday.
More than 10 people have “committed suicide” since the anti-extradition protests erupted in June. Dozens of mysterious deaths, including falls from high-rise residential buildings or into the sea, either naked or in black clothes, have also alarmed the public. The police have declined to investigate these cases and the families of the deceased have maintained low profiles.
Chan Yin-lam, 15, whose naked body was found in a pool of water in Yau Tong on September 22, was last seen at the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) on September 19. Her death remains a mystery. Police said the case was closed as Chan was seen walking barefoot towards the waterfront. Both the police and Chan’s mother have said she committed suicide.
On Thursday evening, hundreds of people walked barefoot from HKDI to the waterfront to honor Chan. They called on the HKDI to release more CCTV footage.
Chan’s case was reported by local media on October 11. The campus was vandalized by masked people on October 15 after HKDI’s management refused to release more CCTV footage by an agreed deadline. The HKDI released more footage on October 16 but the case remains unresolved.
The HKDI resumed its classes on October 28 but it canceled them on October 29 when masked protesters rallied on the campus. A month after the case was reported, students attended classes for two and a half days, but the campus is now surrounded by metal plates and wooden boards.