No charges filed
Prosecutors cite improper force, lack of aid to suspect, but say severity of actions was minor
Prosecutors will not press charges against five law enforcement officers in a case in which a man choked to death after being taken into custody.
Beijing prosecutors have decided not to press charges against five law enforcement officers suspected of negligence in a case in which a man choked to death after being taken into custody, saying the severity of their actions was minor and all have shown remorse.
The Beijing People’s Procuratorate said in an online post on Friday afternoon that prosecutors found the five officers, including two police officers and three auxiliary officers, who were suspected of “improper law enforcement” through the use of improper force. They said they were trying to take Lei Yang, a 29-year-old Beijing resident, into custody on May 7. But Lei died.
Given that the officers’ activities were part of a planned l aw enforcement campaign, and that Lei had interfered with law enforcement, the prosecutors decided not to press any charges, the statement said.
However, prosecutors also found that the five officers contributed to Lei’s death by failing to perform emergency lifesaving procedures, including taking the man to a hospital after finding him unresponsive. They were also found to have deliberately made up facts and obstruct the investigation during the ensuing inquiry, the procuratorate said.
The statement added that the procuratorate will report any violation of the Communist Party of China discipline, if any, to the appropriate watchdog.
The Beijing police said in a statement later on Friday that the five officers will be punished in accordance with regulations.
The case stirred a public outcry after an online post by Lei’s wife casting doubt on the results of the police investigation after her husband’s death.
Four of the suspects have been released on bail. A fifth, surnamed Xing, former deputy director of Dongxiaokou police station in Changping district, remained in custody.
The prosecutors said they determined that Lei had solicited prostitution at a foot massage salon before his encounter with the officers. Lei tried to escape before officers subdued him, the investigation found.
In the statement, the prosecutors described a number of abusive behaviors, including officers “using knees to press face and neck, and slapping on the face”.
Lei tried to escape for a second time after he was placed in a police vehicle. In apprehending him the second time, the officers “used their feet to step on Lei’s face and neck, and used their legs to hold down his arm”. Lei was then dragged back to the police vehicle by the handcuffs he was wearing.
The prosecutors said they don’t believe Lei was beaten to death by the police officers, as none of the bruises on his body were fatal. Lei was found by an independent autopsy to have choked to death on his vomit.
“But the misconduct by the police officers had a direct causal relationship with Lei’s death, which is a serious result,” it said, adding that “Lei’s intensive and persistent resistance when he had a full stomach also has a close relationship with the death”.