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Police used pepper spray against eight suspects in a waiting area inside Ruttonjee Hospital. Photo: Warton Li

8 men pepper-sprayed by Hong Kong police after alleged disorderly behaviour inside public hospital waiting area

  • Officers were called to confront eight men smelling of alcohol at a waiting area in Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai on Wednesday morning
  • One suspect also arrested on suspicion of assaulting officer, resisting arrest

Hong Kong police pepper-sprayed eight suspected triad members accused of behaving in a disorderly manner at Ruttonjee Hospital on Wednesday morning.

Officers were called to the waiting area of the public hospital’s accident and emergency department on Queen’s Road East in Wan Chai, where the incident took place at 8.19am.

A police source said the eight men, aged 19 to 26, were suspected members of a Sun Yee On triad gang.

Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai. Photo: Warton Li

An investigation suggested one of the men tripped while drinking at a party, injuring himself, and the others took him to hospital, the insider said.

“A preliminary investigation suggested the gang lost patience while waiting for consultation and had a dispute with hospital staff,” he said, adding the employees then called police.

The force said in a statement the eight men were found to have behaved emotionally and refused to cooperate when officers arrived.

“When they ignored verbal warnings, officers used pepper spray to subdue them,” police said.

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One of the men, aged 21, was also accused of failing to comply with police instructions and punching an officer, according to the force. The man was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct in a public place.

The officer suffered no obvious injuries in the alleged attack and received a check-up at the hospital.

The other seven men were detained on suspicion of behaving in a disorderly manner.

According to police, officers detected the smell of alcohol coming from the eight men.

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Under the Force Procedures Manual, officers are allowed to use irritant agent devices, such as pepper spray, when dealing with “active resistance” to prevent control or possibly cause injury to oneself or others.

The hospital said the patient attended A&E at around 7am, accompanied by others.

“While waiting for consultation, they refused to comply with staff advice and their behaviour momentarily affected the services at the department,” a spokesman said. Police were then called for help.

After officers intervened, operations resumed and no emergency medical services were affected, the hospital said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, all the suspects were being held for questioning and none had been charged. Officers from the anti-triad squad of the Wan Chai police district were investigating the case.

Between January and October of 2021, police handled 1,379 reports of suspected triad-related offences, up 5.8 per cent from 1,304 cases in the same period the year before.