100+ Riot Police Breaches Popcorn Mall and Arrest Civilians; One Was Knocked Onto the Floor and Suffered Bone Fracture; Judge Questions the Heavy Use of Force

Today, demonstrators gathered in many MTR-owned shopping malls to protest against MTR’s recent involvement in police operations and refusal to disclose CCTV footage of 8.31. Many riot police rushed into the malls to disperse the crowds. In Popcorn (Tseung Kwan O), they rushed to the first floor and indiscriminately arrested 3 civilians despite the lack of solid proof that they had committed any crimes. One of the arrested was a middle aged man in casual street clothing. No real protestors were seen at the time. The arrests sparked huge outcry amongst bystanders, calling the officers unlawful gangsters like the triads.

A citizen called Mr. Lui recalled the moment riot police arrested people for no apparent reason. He said there were a few protestors in black vandalising Starbucks, but they were long gone before the police arrived. Instead of searching for the vandals, officers tackled two masked civilians in casual getup instead and tore apart their shirts. He also said that the arrestees attempted to shout out their ID number, but officers deliberately drown out their voices using whistles.

Update (2nd July, 2020):

In October last year, protesters gathered in shopping malls in 18 districts, and in particular for the PopCorn shopping mall in Tseung Kwan O, some protesters vandalised various restaurants under Maxim’s Group which triggered conflicts between police and the protesters. A 55-year-old cross-border driver attempted to pull away an arrested man but was captured and arrested himself. He admitted the charge of the obstruction of police officer executing duty. The defence claimed in court before that the defendant suffered bone fracture in his left elbow, and he was thrown twice to the ground by the police during arrest, so the magistrate demanded the counsel to submit footage of proof. Upon viewing the footage on 2nd July in the Kwun Tong Magistrate’s Courts, principal magistrate Chui Yee-mei determined that the defendant was thrown forcefully onto the ground after arrest even though he did not resist, which was both unnecessary and unreasonable. She questioned whether this demonstrates abuse of force by the officers and demanded the prosecution to seek legal advice and follow up on this scenario. The defendant was sentence to a fine of HKD $5000.

During arrest, the defendant suffered bone fracture and required surgical fixation with screws and suturing. The Defence submitted relevant medical report on his injury. Upon reading through the report, the magistrate immediately asked why the arrest caused such serious injury, to which the counsel replied the arrest was forceful and quite violent.

Prosecution: The officer had to separate the defendant and the arrested.

Magistrate: By pulling on his neck from behind and throwing him down?

The defence played a video shot by a third person in court. The magistrate pointed out that the defendant had rushed towards the arrested young man and did something by ducking down, and was immediately pulled on his neck and toppled over by a riot police. The prosecution explained that it was done to separate the defendant and the arrested, to which the magistrate asked, “you call this separating the two?”

She then stated that the defendant was taken to another location and briefly exited the scene captured by the video, and when he reappeared he was taken away by 2 officers. The officer on the right suddently threw him down in a manner similar to wrestling, and he first landed on his left side. He was not seen resisting or provoking the officers, and after that he did not carry out other actions.

Prosecution: He tried to escape.

Magistrate: This is not mentioned in the case. It’s your fault that you didn’t include it.

The magistrate thought that the injury in the left elbow was caused by the throwing down on the second time, during which the defendant was under control and did not show obvious signs of attempted escape. The prosecution rebutted that he did attempt to escape. The magistrate demanded the prosecution multiple times to explaion why the defedant had fell forward, to which the prosecution replied the officer needed to suppress him and that he was not handcuffed. However, the magistrate questioned the necessity of such action, and stated that the prosecution had not mentioned his attempted escape, which was a clear fault on their side.

The magistrate also mentioned an appeal letter written by the defendant. He claimed that he worked diligently as a cross-border driver for more than 30 years, through which he earned his income to support his family and to enable his children to grow up happily and healthily. But after the incident, he suffered greatly from mental stress and the pain from the elbow injury. He recovered slowly from surgeries due to his old age and so could not work for a considerable period of time, during which he had to fund his car with zero income.

The magistrate then pointed out that the defendant felt deep regret in his action, and that he did not consider the full circumstance of the situation, rushing to help the arrested young man to get up purely based on his conceived urgency of the situation which resulted in him obstructing the officer’s duty. The magistrate accepted his claim that he only walked by the shopping mall, did not know the arrested and did not shout or provoke police officers with him. To him, he went up because he saw the young person being captured, and he also shouted at the officers to “not capture the young person/people”. Based on his instinct and behaviours at the moment, she determined that he had not planned his action nor had he commited the crime for personal gain.

The magistrate thought the defendant had acted because of recklessness and did not fully consider the outcome, and that with the heavy equipment worn by the riot police, there was nothing he could have done for the arrested, not to mention that none of the officers had suffered injuries. She further pointed out that according to the video, there were officers who shouted “criminal stealing” but she disagreed with the actual situaiton, bringing up the contradition between the clear lack of resist shown in the video and the police’s claim that the injury was caused by his heavy resisting.

Magistrate says the defendant had suffered heavy consequences, and demands police follow-up on force abuse

The magistrate stated that he had received appropriate punishment from his injury, and that neither imprisonment nor social service order were suitable for him considering his healthy status, so the defendant was instead sentenced to a HKD $5000 fine. She determined that the police’s actions during the incident were unnecessary and unreasonable, therefore she demanded the prosecution to seek legal advice and examine whether there was abuse of force involved. The prosecution complied with the demand.

Kwan (55 years old) was said to have obstructed officer #23385 from carrying out his duty in the Starbucks cafe in PopCorn shopping mall in Tseung Kwan O on 13th October, 2019. He stated under police caution that he did not want the officers to arrest young people, so he tried to bring them away.

Police General Orders Chapter 44 Section 44-04 Search of Premises
A police officer shall not enter any premises for the purpose of a search unless he is
legally empowered to do so, or has the consent of the owner or occupier of the premises.

Laws of Hong Kong Cap. 212 Offences against the Person Ordinance Section 39:
Assault occasioning actual bodily harm
Any person who is convicted of an assault occasioning actual bodily harm shall be guilty of an offence triable upon indictment, and shall be liable to imprisonment for 3 years.

Police General Orders Chapter 29 Section 29-01 Use of Force
7. In order to substantiate your findings it is essential that the following points be continually kept in mind –
(a) it was the minimum degree of force necessary to achieve the purpose and ceased once that objective was achieved; and
(b) the use of that degree of force was reasonable in the circumstances