Police officer saved life of colleague using minimum force

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 February, 2016, 4:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 February, 2016, 4:53pm

Your pages are already carrying comments from those criticising the police for their actions in the rioting in Mong Kok, including the opinion that the firing of warning shots by a police officer was “illegal”. Doubtless there will be calls for the disciplining of the police officer concerned.

This would be a grave mistake and an injustice. Careful viewing of the video footage available in quantity on YouTube makes it clear that the 10 or so traffic policemen who were involved at the commencement of the riot were unprepared to face the mob that vastly outnumbered them. They had neither equipment nor support and were entirely on their own.

One of their number was isolated and went down under a hail of missiles and was set upon by rioters who threw at him everything they had to hand, including two large rubbish containers which they bounced off his body. They were clearly intent on causing him serious physical harm.

Efforts by his colleagues to reach and assist him were prevented by the rioters.

His life was clearly in danger. It was at that point that one of the officers fired his revolver in warning. He did not choose to fire at any rioter, as he would have been entitled to do to save his colleague’s life.

Instead, he acted with restraint and as a result hurt no one. His action succeeded in stopping the attack on his wounded colleague and the rioters backed off.

Rather than criticise this officer, he should be commended for his bravery in acting. There was no other way available to him and his fellow officers to rescue their colleague from harm.

He saved his colleague’s life using minimum force, that is the amount of force he rightly believed was reasonable in the circumstances. As a retired lieutenant-colonel who served 20 years in the British Army, I hope that I would have had the presence of mind to do the same had I been in his shoes.

Nigel Collett, Central