An inspector who narrowly escaped death in a shoot-out with gangsters told yesterday how he was shot after defying an order to keep a gate closed as gunmen were firing their way out of a building. Inspector Chan Sze-ki, 41, said he was trying to save the lives of colleagues and residents who were still in the Tai Kok Tsui building. He said Superintendent Trevor John Oakes had ordered an officer in their team to shut the gate of the building in Li Tak Street during the raid on April 24, 1992. The inspector said he questioned the superintendent's order and used a crowbar found nearby to open the gate. 'At that stage, I had anger in my mind. I would have suffered from guilt for the rest of my life if [an officer in my team] was shot dead that day,' Inspector Chan said during cross-examination in the Court of First Instance. The inspector is claiming more than $17 million in damages as a result of alleged negligence by the Commissioner of Police and Mr Oakes. The court heard he had suffered several disabilities since the shooting, including a loss of smell and taste, impairment to short-term memory and leaking spinal fluid. The hearing was adjourned several times yesterday because of his physical condition. Defence counsel Alan Leong Kah-kit suggested that people who wanted to leave the building could have opened the gate from inside. But Inspector Chan replied: 'Even a delay of a single second may risk one's life.' The inspector said he was shot after he lost his balance and fell while trying to open the gate. 'I felt as though I had been kicked on my left cheek. Then I felt numb and I saw that I was bleeding from my nose as well as my mouth,' he said. 'In a hazy way, I saw people moving past in front of me, but I remained kneeling there because I could not move.' Inspector Chan, who claimed he could have at least achieved the rank of superintendent had he not been injured, was also asked by the defence counsel why he had repeatedly failed written exams - compulsory for promotion to senior inspector - before the 1992 incident. But the inspector said he was too busy at work and he had little time to prepare for the exam. 'The police station was virtually my home,' he said, adding he had a bed and kept his two dogs there. The hearing will continue today before Mr Justice Azizul Suffiad.