A knife-wielding man was "out of control and threatening to harm himself and others" when a police officer opened fire on him in the early hours of yesterday, hitting him in the thigh, according to a witness.
Simon Joseph Gorka was shot after a domestic dispute at his Tung Chung apartment. It was the first time in his career that the police officer, who has 20 years' service, had fired his weapon in the line of duty.
Police said the 32-year-old Canadian was drunk and in an emotional state after an argument with his Chinese girlfriend, also 32. She called the police, who found Gorka outside the Caribbean Coast residential development in Tung Chung in the possession of a steak knife and two fruit knives.
He threatened police and then began cutting himself with the knives, police said. After giving him several warnings to stop his behaviour, a police sergeant fired one shot and Gorka sustained a wound to his left inner thigh. He also had a cut on his right thigh.
Last night he was in serious condition in intensive care at Princess Margaret Hospital in Lai King.
A neighbour living in the same apartment block as Gorka said the police were left with no option but to shoot him.
"He was out of control and threatening to harm himself and others," said the neighbour, who asked not to be identified.
"He was going berserk. The police took action more to prevent him from doing harm to himself than because he was going to attack them.
"They were really left with no other alternative."
Police seized three knives at the scene. Gorka was arrested for possession of offensive weapons. Investigations by the New Territories South regional crime squad are proceeding.
Shooting incidents involving the police are rare. One that did make headlines was that of a Nepali, shot dead by an officer in 2009, which led to claims the force lacked sensitivity in dealing with members of ethnic minorities. The officer was cleared.