Hong Kong policeman testifies he felt his ‘life was in danger’ during Mong Kok riot
Court hears senior constable recall ‘too many thugs’ during unrest that erupted following a dispute over government regulation of hawkers
A Hong Kong policeman on Wednesday recalled fleeing for his life during violent clashes in Mong Kok last year when 50 “thugs” rushed towards his cornered team and hurled bricks that he could only shield with his bare hands.
Detective senior constable Chow Wai-kit was testifying at a trial of nine men accused of rioting in the popular shopping district after a dispute on Lunar New Year over government regulation of hawkers.
News footage played in West Kowloon Court showed Chow and his colleagues vastly outnumbered by the advancing crowds as they retreated slowly along a closed jewellery shop at about 4am on February 9 last year.
Soon the team of 10 was split up. Chow was left with a fellow plainclothes officer. The two lacked shields, helmets and weapons.
“The situation at the time was very dangerous,” he told District Court judge Kwok Wai-kin. “I felt my life was in danger.”
Chow agreed with a defence suggestion that police had to “flee for their lives” as protesters grew increasingly violent.
He testified that his right shoe had fallen off as he was struck by bricks and hit by protesters and that his colleague had been bashed with a folding chair and a five-foot long stick.
He also recalled that a man they had struggled to arrest and handcuff slipped away during the unrest. “There were too many thugs,” he continued. “We had to protect ourselves and we couldn’t hold onto the man.”
The attack abated when police reinforcements arrived, and after reporters behind them shouted: “Don’t hit. People will die.”
Meanwhile, constable Yip Kim-kwan recalled travelling along Nathan Road in a police car surrounded by protesters who hurled bricks and bamboo sticks “like javelin sticks” at the vehicle.
Deputy director of public prosecutions David Leung Cheuk-yin SC said: “Soon the windows were broken.”
“All shattered,” Yip added.
Still the assault continued with bricks thrown inside the car. Yip said he “could hear them banging”.
Another passenger, police constable Chung Yue-chee, said he wore a helmet inside the car and leaned his body to one side as glass shards sprinkled over him.
“I was very scared, very scared that I might get hit,” he said.
None of the four officers inside the car sustained injuries in the 10-minute incident.
But the vehicle was damaged, its windshield broken and rear windows shattered and body panels dented. The damage totalled HK$26,352, and police ceased using it.
Waiter Mo Jia-tao, 18, earlier pleaded not guilty to one count of criminal damage involving the car.
He also denied three counts of rioting, but admitted to assaulting police constable Wong Wing-ho with a bottle-like object.
Cleaner Chung Chi-wah, 30, actor Anthony Ho Kam-sum, 37, waiter Fok Ting-ho, 23, logistics worker Tang King-chung, 27, electrician Lam Wing-wong, 21, renovation worker Yep Chi-fung, 17, and Chan Wo-cheung, 70, and Li Cheuk-hin, 19, each pleaded not guilty to one count of rioting.
Chan further denied assaulting police constable Pang Tak-ching.
The trial continues.