Mong Kok riot

Hong Kong police officer fired two gun shots to save stricken colleague’s life, Edward Leung riot trial hears

Constable Wong Hing-wai tells High Court he decided to switch from a baton to his pistol after the angry mob continued to attack his unconsciousness colleague

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 March, 2018, 7:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 March, 2018, 10:31pm

A Hong Kong police officer had “no choice” but to fire two warning shots during the Mong Kok riot in 2016 because he feared for the life of an injured colleague under attack, a court heard on Thursday.

Constable Wong Hing-wai told the High Court that he decided to switch from a police baton to his pistol after the angry mob on Argyle Street on February 9, 2016 continued to attack his unconsciousness colleague even though he was lying motionless on the ground.

Wong was testifying in the high-profile riot trial of pro-independence activist Edward Leung Tin-kei, 26, and four others.

“I just wanted to save my colleague,” Wong said. “I was left with no choice but to open fire into the air in the hope that I could stop those attacking.”

The traffic police officer recalled that the verbal warnings he issued before firing fell on deaf ears, which left him fearing his colleague might be subject to serious or even fatal injuries. So he fired two shots, he told the court.

Man who hurled brick at police ‘for fun’ during riot back in court

Leung and the four others – Lee Nok-man, Lo Kin-man, Lam Ngo-hin and Lam Lun-hing – denied a string of charges accusing them of inciting or taking part in riots or unlawful assemblies between February 8 and 9 that year.

Prosecutors said the skirmish, which took place during the first two days of the Lunar New Year, started off on Portland Street and spread to other areas of the popular shopping hub, with protesters throwing various objects including bricks at police.

Mong Kok riot: how the five men on trial allegedly caused chaos

Wong said he arrived at the scene at 12.45am, and was called to Argyle Street for backup about an hour later. As soon as he got there he spotted his defenceless colleague on the ground. However, the crowd continued to throw objects at him, and punched and kicked him.

Other officers, he said, tried to save their fallen colleague but to no avail because of the violent crowd. Wong said using his baton was not effective either.

“So I decided to raise the level of force,” he told the court, referring to the pistol he then pulled out.

“Move back or I’ll open fire,” he warned the crowd, but was ignored.

‘They lost control’: hygiene officer in lead-up clash to Mong Kok riot

He said he therefore fired the first shot in the air.

The crowd briefly retreated but returned to continue the assault, prompting him to issue a second warning and fire the second shot.

After that the crowd eventually retreated and his colleagues were able to help the injured officer.

Asked if he had sought advice from his superiors before firing the shots, Wong said under cross-examination: “My colleague wouldn’t be able to wait until then.”

Senior constable Chui Kwok-cheung recalled tripping as objects flew in his direction. He lost consciousness after being hit with a crate, he said.

The trial continues before Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam on Friday.