Police refuse to explain how gun fell at protest

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2007, 12:00am

Police chiefs faced criticism yesterday for refusing to reveal how an officer's gun fell to the ground during a protest at an election campaign appearance by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

James To Kun-sun, chairman of the Legislative Council's security panel, demanded to know whether the gun was dropped by an officer of the force's elite VIP Protection Unit as he raised it to warn off protesters as they scuffled with officers during the February protest in Yau Ma Tei.

Assistant police commissioner Blaine Hoggard said he could not reveal how the Glock 17 pistol - supposedly secured - fell to the ground, where its magazine fell out, because an investigation into a complaint made about the incident by a member of the public was still under way.

Mr Hoggard described the events of the day to the panel, and said that whenever an officer pulls their gun from its holster, they must report the action to a superior officer.

Mr To asked whether the safety catch for the pistol was adequate and whether this would be reviewed. The assistant commissioner said the pistol had three safety features and in 'normal circumstances' would not have slipped out.

He refused to say what police had uncovered about the incident while the Independent Police Complaints Council was investigating and disciplinary action against the officer involved was possible.

Mr Hoggard said the investigation would be finished in June, adding that 54 officers had to be interviewed.

Lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan said the public did not want to know about the officer, only how a scuffle between police and protesters could result in a potentially deadly weapon falling to the ground.

'If there is a scuffle between police and a member of the public or demonstrators like those at the WTO [ministerial conference in 2005], then we should know as soon as possible what happened so we can learn from the incident,' he said.

The Legco panel has demanded Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong appear before it to answer questions about the incident.