Police deserve the benefit of the doubt

  • The police shooting of a man wielding a cutter has been portrated by anti-government circles as an unjustified use of force
  • This fits in with attempts by the yellow-ribbon crowd since the Occupy debacle to paint Hong Kong police as unprofessional and brutal
PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 9:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 10:15pm

When a man was stopped by police and pulled out a cutter to make threatening motions, he only had himself to blame if he was shot.

This seems to be what happened to Chow King-tang, a 55-year-old renovation worker, who remains in hospital after ignoring warnings from two police officers on patrol at Sham Shui Po MTR station early this month.

But this is Hong Kong, so the incident has been portrayed in yellow-ribbon anti-government circles and their media sites as one of police brutality and unjustified use of force. Many of the denunciations against the female officer who fired the shot cannot be printed in a family newspaper.

Now, the Democratic Party has decided to represent Chow’s family against the police and even called a media conference to press their case.

I don’t doubt that the family is angry, but Democrat lawmaker James To Kun-sun might have the decency to wait until police finished their investigation before joining the yellow-ribbon bandwagon.

The sequence of events was captured by a CCTV camera. Granted, it wasn’t high definition, but it pretty much tallied with the officers’ account.

Man shot in MTR station ‘carried knife daily as renovation worker’

Any benefit of the doubt should go to the woman officer, not the injured suspect. Not that the officers knew about it at the time but Chow turned out to have a prior conviction and jail sentence for assaulting a police officer in 2013.

A statement made by Chow’s family was widely quoted in the news that it was normal for the renovation worker to be carrying a cutter. Well, maybe so, but most people probably wouldn’t point it at the police while being stopped.

Ever since the Occupy debacle of 2014, the yellow-ribbon crowds and some members of the opposition have been trying desperately to paint the Hong Kong police as unprofessional, brutal and prone to excessive use of force.

Some foreign news outlets, human rights NGOs and American politicians, long used to such behaviour from their own police forces, have been only too happy to join the local chorus of criticism.

No doubt there are bad apples in the force, as you do with any large organisation. But on the whole, our police officers are nothing but professional, well-trained and exceptionally restrained in their dealings with the public.

Proof? Just consider your own readiness to hurl verbal abuse at officers who might give you a ticket for jaywalking or illegal parking.