Family of Beijing man who died in police custody drops appeal, lawyer says

Settlement reached directly with law enforcement authorities over death of Lei Yang, according to attorney

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 December, 2016, 9:04am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 December, 2016, 9:03am

The family of a young man in Beijing who died in police custody have reached a settlement with law enforcement authorities over his death, according to the family’s lawyer.

They would not seek to appeal a decision by prosecutors that the conduct of the five officers involved in the choking and beating of environmental scientist Lei Yang, 29, did not warrant criminal charges. All the officers have either been sacked or transferred, according to Beijing police.

Chinese death in custody raises family and public fears of police brutality

On May 7, Lei left his home in Changping district for the airport to pick up his parents who were visiting after the birth of his son a month earlier. Lei was taken into custody by plain-clothes officers amid circumstances that remain unclear. They later said he was picked up for solicitation. He was taken to hospital less than an hour later where he was declared dead. Many members of the public questioned the police account of the events that led up to his death and accused authorities of staging a cover-up.

Lawyer Chen Youxi said on WeChat the family had signed a settlement and agreed not to pursue further action.

“The huge pressure and mental and physical effort of long lawsuits is more than what the two elders [Lei’s parents] could take,” Chen said. He declined a request for a telephone interview. The value of the settlement was not disclosed.

The family said in earlier statements they would “absolutely” not accept the decision by the Fengtai district prosecutors’ office and would seek an appeal.

A young life lost: it’s time for justice to be served

The office released a statement on Friday stating the five police officers, including Xing Yongrui, a deputy station director, choked Lei shortly before his death. They also pressed their knees against his neck and face, and stamped on his face.

Lei showed signs of suffocating, but the officers failed to send him to hospital in time, it said. They later tried to cover up the case and stall an investigation by lying. Xing said during a television interview Lei died of a heart attack after trying to flee. Lei’s death was closely related to his attempt to escape, the office said.

The municipal Public Security Bureau said in a statement on Thursday Xing was expelled from the Communist Party and sacked. Another officer was removed from his law enforcement unit and his administrative ranking revoked. Three auxiliary officers and security guards were fired and six senior police officials were given warnings or sacked.