Officer's fatal bridge fall is a riddle
Police officers said yesterday they had no idea exactly when or why station sergeant Lau Chi-kin had climbed onto a footbridge roof from which he fell to his death last year.
Lau's direct supervisor, Senior Inspector Wong Lik-hang, said the sergeant had been given no instructions before he climbed onto the roof, where a disgruntled former chicken trader was protesting about government compensation for the loss of his business.
Neither Wong nor four other officers testifying at the inquest into Lau's death could say exactly when he had climbed onto the roof. Lau, 48, was one of several officers responding to a protest in Central in June last year by Lau Yuk-tong, who was unhappy about compensation he received for closing his business during the 2008 bird flu outbreak. The former trader will not be called to testify.
Wong said he believed Lau Chi-kin, a 30-year force veteran, had gone to the rooftop spontaneously, as he did not tell him to do so.
'I believe that as an experienced policeman, he was trying to observe the environment and prepare for deployment [of officers] later.'
Wong said he set off for the scene with two other officers at about 9.45am after receiving a call from another senior inspector, Ku Siu-fai. He later received a call from Lau Chi-kin, who said he was also going to the scene.
Ku, who witnessed the accident, said he first saw Lau on top of the bridge at 10.20am and six minutes later saw him fall as he walked in the direction of One Exchange Square.
'I did not know why I turned [to look at Lau Chi-kin],' Ku said. 'I just suddenly felt like it ... He was walking towards the edge of the [roof] at a normal speed.'
Ku said Lau lost his balance and fell when he stepped off the roof. He shouted to Lau but could not prevent the tragedy happening.
The inquest also heard how the weather had changed from being fine to heavy rain and strong winds within a short period.
Chief Inspector Cheung Man-shing said he did not regard the roof as unsafe to walk on, although it had no guardrails and it was raining at the time.
Lau Chi-kin's widow, Ting Chui-ling, listened to yesterday's proceedings with her head bowed at times. She confirmed in court the personal details of her late husband.
Dozens of police officers also listened to the evidence.
The inquest, before Coroner Michael Chan Pik-kiu and a five-member jury will continue today.
Four other witnesses, comprising two doctors from Queen Mary Hospital, where Lau Chi-kin was treated and certified dead, an occupational safety officer and a pathologist, will be called.
Chan expects the inquest to last three to five days.