Police shoot suicidal chopper-wielder
Simpson Cheung and Clifford Lo
The city's police chief has promised a thorough investigation after two policemen fired six shots at a suicidal man who charged them with a chopper.
Chan Chun-kit, 20, was in critical condition in hospital last night with gunshot wounds to his arm and abdomen after the shooting on the fifth floor of a Wong Tai Sin public housing estate yesterday morning.
One of the policemen who fired shots suffered a cut arm.
Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said the investigation would focus on whether it was necessary to fire six shots to subdue a man who was merely holding a knife.
'We are very prudent in the use of force,' Tsang said. 'If officers believe that it is necessary to do that to protect themselves or other persons from serious bodily injuries, and if it is absolutely necessary, firearms might be used,' he said, adding that an initial report would be submitted to force management within 48 hours.
Investigators are still trying to establish how many of the shots actually hit the man, explaining that some of the bullets, including one that hit his left wrist, could have caused more than one wound.
'Not all the shots hit the man otherwise he could not have survived,' a senior police officer said, adding that initial inquiries showed the officers were justified in opening fire as 'their lives were in danger'.
The drama began just after 8.30am yesterday when Chan's 82-year-old grandmother called police after he threatened to slash his wrists in a suicide bid in his fifth-floor flat in Wang Lok House, Lok Fu Estate.
Two constables and a sergeant from the Kowloon East Emergency Unit arrived to find the man in an emotional state in the fifth-floor public corridor wielding a chopper.
A fast-food restaurant worker, surnamed Chan, who lives in the opposite block, Wang Yat House, said he saw two policemen pointing their guns at the man and ordering him to drop the knife.
'I could not see them after they turned into the lift lobby. Seconds later, gunshots rang out,' he said.
Wong Tai Sin assistant district commander of operations, Superintendent Chan Kwok-kee, said the man came at policemen with the chopper but one of them issued a verbal warning and fired the first shot.
'But the man did not stop rushing at our colleagues. So the officer fired another three shots,' he said. 'As the man still posed a threat to our officers, a sergeant, who assisted the officer, fired another two shots after a verbal warning. At that time we were finally able to subdue him.'
He said the officers had faced a continuous threat throughout the incident.
A fifth-floor resident, surnamed Chiang, said: 'The injured man was lying on the floor at the lift lobby. He appeared to be bleeding heavily from the stomach. But he was conscious and complained of pain when paramedics attended to him.'
Police later arrested the man for assaulting a police officer. No charge has been laid against him.
The 34-year-old constable, who fired four shots, suffered a minor wound to his left forearm.
Superintendent Chan said the constable was still in shock hours after the incident. He was discharged from Queen Elizabeth Hospital after treatment.
Last night, officers from the Kowloon East regional crime unit were investigating how many of the bullets had hit the man.
Chairman Gary Wong Ching of the Junior Police Officers' Association said it was a one-off incident and frontline officers should stay alert when they carried out duties upstairs.