Hong Kong po­lice slammed as ‘trig­ger-happy’ af­ter teen shot

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD - By Eileen Ng and John Le­ices­ter

HONG KONG — Hold­ing up posters say­ing “Don’t shoot our kids,” Hong Kong res­i­dents and school­mates of a teenage demon­stra­tor shot in the chest by a po­lice of­fi­cer ral­lied Wed­nes­day to con­demn po­lice ac­tions and de­mand ac­count­abil­ity.

The shoot­ing Tues­day dur­ing anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tions on China’s Na­tional Day was a fear­some es­ca­la­tion of Hong Kong’s protest vi­o­lence. The 18-year-old is the first known vic­tim of po­lice gun­fire since the protests be­gan in June. He was hos­pi­tal­ized and the gov­ern­ment said his con­di­tion was sta­ble.

The of­fi­cer fired as the teen, Tsang Chi-kin, struck him with a me­tal rod. The of­fi­cer’s use of lethal weaponry in­flamed al­ready wide­spread pub­lic anger against po­lice, who have been con­demned as be­ing heavy­handed in quelling the un­rest.

“The Hong Kong po­lice have gone trig­ger-happy and nuts,” pro-democ­racy law­maker Clau­dia Mo said.

Mo, who said she re­peat­edly watched videos of the shoot­ing, echoed what many peo­ple ex­pressed.

“The sen­si­ble po­lice re­sponse should have been to use a po­lice ba­ton or pep­per spray, etc., to fight back. It wasn’t ex­actly an ex­treme sit­u­a­tion, and the use of a live bul­let sim­ply can­not be jus­ti­fied,” she said.

More than 2,000 peo­ple chanted “No ri­ot­ers, only tyranny” as they filled a sta­dium near Tsang’s school in Tsuen Wan dis­trict in north­ern Hong Kong on Wed­nes­day night. Many held posters read­ing, “Don’t shoot our kids” and held an arm across their chest be­low their left shoul­der — the lo­ca­tion of Tsang’s gun­shot wound.

Sev­eral other peace­ful ral­lies were held else­where, with protesters vow­ing not to give up their fight for more rights in­clud­ing di­rect elec­tions for the city’s lead­ers and po­lice ac­count­abil­ity.

But pock­ets of protesters vented their anger. Black-clad youths smashed ticket ma­chines and van­dal­ized fa­cil­i­ties at two north­ern sub­way sta­tions. In Tsuen Wan, hun­dreds marched along the streets. Some smashed Bank of China teller ma­chines and oth­ers re­moved me­tal rail­ings and dug up bricks from pave­ments to build bar­ri­ers, block­ing traf­fic.

Ear­lier Wed­nes­day, hun­dreds of peo­ple sat crossed-legged out­side Tsang’s school chant­ing anti-po­lice slo­gans.

Many stu­dents felt that fir­ing at Tsang’s chest, close to his heart, was an at­tempt to kill him. Po­lice said Tsang has been ar­rested de­spite be­ing hos­pi­tal­ized and that authoritie­s will de­cide later whether to press charges.

Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Stephen Lo said late Tues­day the of­fi­cer had feared for his life and made “a split-sec­ond” de­ci­sion to fire a sin­gle shot at close range. He de­nied po­lice had been given per­mis­sion to shoot to kill.

Re­spond­ing to ques­tions about why the of­fi­cer shot at Tsang’s chest, in­stead of his limbs, Deputy Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Tang Ping-Ke­ung said Wed­nes­day the of­fi­cer had fired at an area that could im­mo­bi­lize the youth quickly.

Tang said the of­fi­cer’s ac­tion was in line with in­ter­na­tional pro­ce­dures, but that po­lice would con­duct an in-depth in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the shoot­ing.

MOHD RASFAN/GETTY-AFP

A pro­tester’s plac­ard Wed­nes­day de­picts a stu­dent be­ing shot in the chest by po­lice.

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