Police chief ‘sad’ but not sorry over unlawful killing of Hong Kong taxi driver
- Commissioner describes 2012 incident as ‘unfortunate’ and says he ‘fully’ appreciates family’s feelings
- He urges public to understand ‘highly challenging environment’ for officers carrying out their duties
- CCTV camera installation in force’s vehicles being considered
Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung has stopped short of offering an apology over the “unlawful killing” of a Hong Kong taxi driver who died after being arrested and put into a headlock, saying the officers performed their duties in “good faith”.
Lo was referring to the verdict of unlawful killing that an inquest returned on Wednesday in the death of Chan Fai-wong. He died after an officer put him in a headlock during an arrest on November 11, 2012.
Asked at a police event on Friday if he would apologise to Chan’s family, Lo lamented what happened.
“This is an unfortunate incident. I feel sad about this case. I fully appreciate the feelings of the family.”
Chan, 65, was diagnosed with a dislocated cervical vertebra two days after the arrest. He died a month later on December 12, 2012, of bronchitis he had contracted as a complication of the neck injury.
“But I urge the public to understand that our officers perform their duties nowadays in a highly challenging environment,” the police chief added.
“They do so in good faith for the purpose of upholding the rule of law and serving the community.”
Lo pledged to study the possibility of installing CCTV cameras inside police vehicles and adopting other measures recommended by the Coroner's Court.
The jury also suggested the force provide training for officers on how to transfer suspects to their vans.
The verdict meant the officers involved could be criminally prosecuted over Chan’s death.
“We will conduct a comprehensive study and suitably follow up and take appropriate action afterwards,” Lo said, adding that the force would seek legal advice from the Department of Justice.
The inquest, lasting more than two weeks at the Coroner’s Court in West Kowloon, centred on an altercation during Chan’s arrest.
Officers had been dispatched to a dispute between Chan and a Japanese passenger outside a toll station on the Kowloon side of the Western Harbour Tunnel.
When Chan refused to get into a police van, the officers attempted to apprehend him.
Security footage played in court showed Chan being lifted from the ground into a police van, with a plain-clothes officer’s arm around his neck, while a uniformed officer carried his legs.
During the inquest, police involved in the operation claimed Chan did not make any immediate complaints of feeling unwell.
They also said the method had been reasonable or lawful, except for the action taken by constable Lam Wai-wing, the officer who subjected Chan to the headlock.
Lam admitted this action was unlawful.
But he said he did it due to Chan’s resistance, which caused his arm to slip from Chan’s shoulder to his neck.
The constable later acknowledged that what he had done was dangerous.
The jury also suggested the force set up a system to notify a suspect’s family in certain circumstances.
And when police officers suspect a person is injured as a result of a struggle, they should be required to tell medical staff what transpired in full detail, the jury said.