Family of man who died in police custody in Beijing files complaint alleging abuse

Lei Yang was arrested on a charge of soliciting a prostitute in early May; less than an hour later he was dead

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 May, 2016, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 May, 2016, 12:33pm

The family of Lei Yang, a Beijing-based environmental scientist who died while in police custody, has filed a request to open an official investigation into the officers who handled the case.

Caixin reported that Lei’s family filed a complaint on Tuesday with the Beijing municipal prosecution’s office, alleging intentional injury, abuse of power and forging of evidence.

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The article quoted an unnamed lawyer of the family as saying: “The prosecution is highly concerned with the case and shall decide whether to accept our complaint before informing us of their decision.”

Officers took Lei, 29, into custody on May 7 for allegedly soliciting prostitutes. He was arrested around 9.15pm outside a foot massage parlour and taken to Changping district station. About 50 minutes later he was rushed to a nearby hospital, showing no signs of life.

His death triggered a national outcry, with some members of the public calling for a clampdown on abuse of power by police.

According to Lei’s family, the officers handling the case violated protocol, the report said. There was a lack of evidence of a crime and extensive injuries were found on his body, the family claimed.

Police carried out restraining measures and violently assaulted Lei
Complaint letter

“Without adequate evidence, police carried out restraining measures and violently assaulted Lei, leaving him in a near-death situation,” according to the complaint letter addressed to the Beijing prosecution’s office.

“Delaying his treatment caused Lei to pass away within 50 minutes of being apprehended by police,” the letter said.

Last week, district police presented a different version of events to the media. They said Lei attempted to resist arrest and that a prostitute had been willing to implicate him on state television.

Chinese death in custody raises family and public fears of police brutality

But Lei’s family said he was on his way to the airport to pick up a relative when he was arrested.

They were invited to see the body under police supervision and said he had bruising on his arm and forehead, as well as other injuries. But when they tried to take photographs, the officers stopped them, the family said.

An autopsy has been carried out, but the final report could take up to 60 days, according to media reports.