Trigger-happy Shenzhen police cause public concern

Two shootings by officers raises questions about when and where they should open fire

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 3:59am

Public concern about the abuse of guns by police is increasing, with a newspaper reporting yesterday that police in Shenzhen had been encouraged to "pull the trigger" promptly when required.

There have been two recent cases of Shenzhen policemen shooting people dead in personal disputes.

The Beijing News reported yesterday that top Shenzhen police officials had urged police to shoot suspects who attacked them. For the past six years, all police on duty in the city have been armed with pistols, the newspaper said.

Shenzhen police refused to comment about the public concerns but said police would fire warning shots before shooting violent suspects.

The report said Shenzhen authorities dealt with 30 cases of violent assault of police in July 2006. On July 26 that year, Qian Weigong, then deputy head of Shenzhen's public security bureau, said in public: "On encountering criminals who resist arrest or violently assault police officers, our policemen should pull the trigger without hesitation."

On November 27, 2008, a police officer shot dead a car thief who attacked him with a knife. Li Ming, the city's deputy mayor and head of its public security bureau, commended the policeman, saying: "[We] should encourage such courage, to shoot [criminals]."

However, five Shenzhen police officers have been punished this year over a case in which a policeman was accused of shooting a man dead.

Li Caikun, a policeman at Shenzhen's Longxin police station, allegedly quarrelled with a migrant worker from Guangxi and killed him on July 1, after framing him for robbery. The case has been handed over to the courts.

In September, a 54-year-old police officer from the Shenzhen Public Transport Bureau's Luohu station shot his 28-year-old superior officer dead over a personal dispute, before taking his own life with the same gun.

Shangguan Piliang, a criminal law professor at Suzhou University, called for more precise rules on when and where police may pull the trigger.

"According to the current law, police officers are allowed to shoot suspects in an emergency, when the suspects are threatening innocent people," Shangguan said. "But the rules are blurred when it comes to determining what's an emergency and what's gun abuse."