CRIME

Chinese policeman guns down unarmed traveller in front of his three children and elderly mother

Video casts doubt on official account of killing of a railway traveller in front of his three children

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 May, 2015, 3:52am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 May, 2015, 3:14pm
AP

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Watch: Latest CCTV footage captures Xu Chunhe's confrontation with police

A shooting in which a police officer killed an unarmed traveller in front of his elderly mother and three small children at a train station, is being investigated by the public security ministry.

Railway police said the officer pulled the trigger after Xu Chunhe, 45, attacked him and tried to seize his gun on May 2.

But a private video clip circulating online shows the policeman using a long stick to beat Xu, who tried to dodge the blows and pull the stick away from the policeman. Local authorities have refused to release the full surveillance footage of the shooting.

The ministry yesterday confirmed a state media report that it had sent a work team to the northeastern town of Qingan to gather evidence and witness accounts, and said it would release results later.

With rising social tensions and an accompanying increase in violent crimes, especially in what the authorities see as terrorist threats from members of the ethnic minority of Uygurs, the mainland began to allow normal patrol officers to carry firearms for the first time last year. However, the move has raised concerns over whether the newly trained patrol officers are responsible enough in the use of the weapon.

Members of the public have questioned whether policeman Li Lebin was justified in shooting Xu in the chest.

Xie Yanyi, a lawyer for Xu's family, said he believed the policeman had no need to restrain Xu and that the officer should be investigated on murder charges.

The police statement said the policeman intervened when Xu barred other travellers from checking into the station and that Xu was rude to the police officer.

"He boxed at the police officer, knocking off his cap," police supervisor Zhao Dongbin told local media. "He said he would try to grab the gun ... and it would have been unimaginable if he had seized the gun."

But Xu's cousin, Xu Chunli, said the officer hit Xu so hard with the baton that Xu had blood on his head and face. Once Xu grabbed the baton, the officer pulled the gun, the cousin said.

The cousin said Xu grew upset when he and his family were barred from boarding the train.

Impoverished and ill, Xu was travelling to Beijing to seek government assistance for his elderly mother and three children, which would have drawn unwelcome scrutiny on the local government.