Hong Kong courts

We warned man before shooting him dead, Hong Kong police insist

Officers contradict evidence heard a day earlier at inquest of Ho Sai-tung, who died on a Lam Tin housing estate after an angry row with his wife

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 December, 2017, 8:33am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 December, 2017, 6:40pm

Two policemen insisted on Wednesday that they warned a man multiple times before they shot him dead on a housing estate in 2014, and that the man – wielding a paper cutter – was a danger to his wife.

But neither Constable Chuang Ze-wei nor Senior Sergeant Lo Kin-ho said they heard the other shoot before opening fire themselves, the Coroner’s Court was told. That resulted in a total of three shots at Ho Sai-tung on May 5, 2014, two from Chuang and one from Lo.

Ho was in a dispute with his wife in the lobby of a Lam Tin residential building, and wielding a blade, when the officers shot him.

A paramedic who attended the scene, Pang Wai-sing, told the court he found one bullet wound above Ho’s forehead and another in his neck, despite the pair saying they had aimed at the man’s shoulders.

The two officers’ testimony on Wednesday contradicted evidence given a day earlier by Ho’s wife and a security guard who was at the scene, who both said police gave no warning before shooting. Another security guard who was also a witness had said he did hear warnings.

Ho died in the lift lobby of Heung Nga House in Hong Nga Court, where his wife’s friend lived.

The 21-year-old went there to see his wife, Wong Man-wa, who had left home with their child. She mistakenly believed Ho was having an affair. After arriving at the lobby, Ho began to lose his temper and held a security guard at knifepoint with a paper cutter. Police shot him as he lunged towards his wife, the court heard.

Giving his testimony on Wednesday, Chuang said he feared for the lives of Wong and his colleague, who was protecting the woman at the time.

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He said Ho went around to their back as though he wanted to stab the wife in the neck.

“Don’t move, police. Or I’ll open fire,” he recalled saying twice, before Ho ignored his instruction and he fired the first shot at the man’s right shoulder.

But that did not stop Ho, he said. Within a second, he cautioned Ho again and fired the second shot.

He said another officer had also made a warning, though he did not hear anyone open fire.

Lo, in his testimony, said he made at least two warnings before firing a shot at Ho’s other shoulder.

Both men said they had complied with police code, which is to aim at the “largest surface exposed”, while Lo also said it was the lowest force available to them at the time.

Coroner Ho Chun-yiu lashed out at another witness, So Yan-wing, a friend of Ho’s, who misled the wife into believing Ho was cheating on her. So insisted she was not entirely responsible for the incident.

“Don’t you think it’s ridiculous that such a trivial matter has escalated into a tragedy ... Don’t you think [you were being] irresponsible?” the coroner said.

The inquest will continue on Thursday.