Apple Daily photojournalist pepper sprayed by police at close range, Strangled for 20 seconds, head landed and went into shock
The riot police made another “killing spree” in Mongkok last night, arresting more than 200 people, many of whom were walking on the streets or happened to get off a taxi or after a meal and were suddenly arrested by the police. A female photojournalist of “Apple Daily” was filming at the junction of Fa Yuen Street and Shantung Street, and was subdued by police officers who pepper-sprayed her whole body at close range and strangled her neck for about 20 seconds. Her whole body burned. She went into shock, landed on the ground and was injured. An ambulance was called and she was taken to Kwong Wah Hospital for treatment with a neck brace. She is still undergoing treatment in the neurosurgery department.
The injured photojournalist Jessica said when she was admitted to hospital, she had weakness in her limbs, pain in her head and front neck, burning pain all over her body including both eyes from being shot with pepper spray. She is currently being treated in the neurosurgical ward and needs assistance from a nurse to leave her bed. Jessica said she had cooperated with the police throughout last night’s coverage. She said the police had unjustifiably used excessive force to attack her, obstructed normal and reasonable reporting and obstructed freedom of the press. She was determined to pursue the police brutality.
The editor-in-chief of the Apple Daily, Law Wai-kwong, severely reprimanded the police for assaulting a photojournalist of the Apple Daily. He criticized the police for obstructing news coverage by violent means and infringing on press freedom, and urged the management of the police force to address the problem squarely. He would lodge a complaint and pursue the matter after his colleague has recovered, so as to protect and safeguard the right to news coverage.
Jessica, speaking at the hospital last night, said the police had shown hostility towards reporters who were there to cover the story before they went on a rampage to arrest people. “They treated us like this before pepper spraying us, saying we’re helping thugs, saying we’re disguising as journalists.” She was already wearing reflective vest, goggles and a press card at the time, and was filming people being arrested at the junction of Fa Yuen Street and Shan Tung Street when the riot police suddenly attacked from both sides. The two groups of police did not seem to be communicating at all. They kept spraying pepper spray and suddenly rushed forward to shout at the reporters to back off. The reporters who were surrounded by them were like sandwiches, “The reporter behind me fell down, and I also fell down, like stepping on each other.” We’re all sandwiched up in the middle by the police.
Before Jessica fell to the ground, a riot police officer suddenly lost control and grabbed her by the neck, “I know he is a riot police officer because I saw his sleeve. He seemed to be trying to strangle me to death, I don’t know why he did it all of a sudden. I had moved backwards already. About 20 seconds after being necked by an out-of-control riot police officer, Jessica began to feel unconscious, had trouble breathing and felt nauseous, and had screamed for help.
By the time the riot police let go, Jessica was no longer able to balance her body, and landed head first on the ground, injured, and went into shock for about 3-4 minutes. When she regained consciousness, “A police officer told us all to sit down and raise our hands, telling us not to take any pictures. At that time my eyes couldn’t see anything and I didn’t know what was going on with my camera. But the police intentionally aimed at my goggles and pepper-sprayed at such a close distance.” Since Jessica was using breathable goggles, the pepper shot into the eye mask, causing her eyes to swell and burn.
“In that situation I didn’t see anything at all, I only knew that I was sitting down. The police told us not to say or do anything, and said we are under arrest.” Jessica said a police officer later asked the media to come forward, but because she had been violently strangled by the riot police, her legs were so weak, her vision was so blurred, and even her breathing was so difficult that she was unable to react immediately. But the other riot police officers laughed at her for “pretending to be something”.
When Jessica regained some sobriety and walked up, a police officer told her, “He said he knew what was going on tonight. When I told him about the incident, he said he knew his colleague was over doing it and out of control”.
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.
Laws of Hong Kong Cap. 232A Police (Discipline) Regulations Part 1 Section 3:
(2) The offences against discipline are—
(k) unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority resulting in loss or injury to any other person or to the Government;
Police General Orders Chapter 39 Section 39-05:
All officers at the scene of an incident shall:-
(a) facilitate the work of the news media as much as possible and accord media representatives consideration and courtesy; and
(b) not block camera lenses.
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