Witnesses to fatal shooting of man in 2014 at odds over whether Hong Kong police issued warning
Two witnesses said they did not hear officers give warning but another says he did, at inquest into death of Ho Sai-tung on Lam Tin housing estate
Three witnesses disagreed in the Coroner’s Court yesterday over whether police warned a man they would open fire before shooting him dead at close range as he rushed towards his wife with a paper cutter.
While one security guard at the scene and the dead man’s wife testified that they did not hear officers warn Ho Sai-tung, another claimed more than one officer cautioned Ho in the lift lobby of Heung Nga House in Lam Tin in the early hours of May 5, 2014.
Ho, 21, went to the building at Hong Nga Court estate in Lam Tin at about 3am that morning, demanding to see his wife and hoping to get his child back, the court heard. The wife was staying there after leaving the family home.
As things escalated, he ended up holding a security guard at knifepoint with a cutter before police shot him as he lunged towards his wife, the court heard.
CCTV footage played in court on Tuesday showed that Ho, in a dark blue T-shirt, swaggered into the lift lobby with his friend Lo Chun-yin just before 3am. They left and re-entered the building twice before returning again, when they were stopped by security guards.
In his testimony, guard Chu Chun-yee recalled Ho was holding a plastic sign – one meant for warning people the floor is wet – during his final entry soon after 3am.
“The deceased hit the reception area with the sign. He was very emotionally charged,” Chu said. Ho hit the marble table at the reception three times, the CCTV footage showed.
He then flashed the paper cutter, which he had pulled from his pocket, Chu said.
Another security guard, Cheung Ching-yeung, recalled threatening to call the police, with Ho agreeing and saying he wanted “to make a scene so that the press would help look for his wife and child”.
Ho then held Cheung hostage by placing the paper cutter next to his neck, Cheung said, adding: “I was terrified.”
When several police officers arrived a few minutes later, two wielded batons and shields, while one had a police dog.
Cheung said the officers told Ho to calm down and have a cigarette.
“Everything can be talked out,” they told Ho, Cheung recalled.
Both Cheung and Chu said Ho became even more emotional when he saw his wife, who came down to the lift lobby. He rushed towards her and police officers quickly caught up.
“Very soon, three gunshots were heard,” Cheung said.
He said more than one officer had warned Ho not to move or they would open fire.
But Chu said he did not hear such warnings.
Chu said there was blood coming from Ho’s temple, while footage showed the man lay prone on the floor.
Ho’s wife Wong Man-wa also said she did not hear the police give her husband any warnings. She said she left home with their son that day, mistakenly believing that Ho was having an affair. Lo, who was also at the scene, testified that it appeared Ho was only hoping to embrace his wife at the time.
The inquest will continue on Wednesday before coroner Ho Chun-yiu.