You may be prosecuted, Hong Kong police tell injured people they ‘used as human shield’
‘Are you brainless?’ asks legislator, as he criticises force for letters sent to those caught up in February’s fatal car chase
Three motorists who were injured after following Hong Kong police orders to slow their vehicles and help stop a car chase which ended with two people dead have been told they may be prosecuted, it was revealed on Friday.
Lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who disclosed the news at a meeting of the Legislative Council’s security panel, condemned police as “brainless”.
The force was accused of using the drivers as “human shields” in February, with lawmakers complaining that officers had compromised public safety by forcing civilians into crime fighting.
To, of the Democratic Party, revealed that police had issued formal notices of intended prosecution to the injured motorists, even as one of them was still in hospital recovering from the crash that ended the chase.
“The officers claimed it was just a routine procedure. How do you think these civilians should feel about it? They were hospitalised because of your chase and you issued such a notice of intended prosecution. Are you brainless?” he said.
The revelation also caused consternation among the other panel members.
Deputy security minister Sonny Au Chi-kwong and Martin Cadman, chief superintendent at police traffic headquarters, did not have an opportunity to respond as they ran out of time.
To told the Post after the meeting that police had issued the notices after taking statements from the officers. The recipients of the notices had sought his help, he said.
“I asked police for a meeting on the issue but they refused. This is ridiculous,” he said.
A police insider with knowledge of the matter confirmed the notices had been issued, adding that the officers had acted in accordance with the Road Traffic Ordinance.
“We normally issue the notice to the concerned parties within 14 working days of the incident, to inform them that they are allegedly involved in a suspected crime case, so they won’t erase any evidence,” the source said.
“It does not necessarily lead to a prosecution. We commonly issue such notices to anyone involved in a crime case.”
In a statement last night, police stated that it was the legal responsibility of the force to issue the notice during the early stage of a traffic accident investigation.
“For this case, police served the notice of intended prosecution to all drivers, including to a police officer,” the statement read, adding that the notice did not necessarily mean that prosecution would be instituted against the recipients.
To said at the Legco meeting: “I have a lot of respect for police officers who risk their lives to catch thieves. This is their duty and a sense of calling.
“But it is wrong to ask a civilian to help police work by using his or her own life. This is unfair.”
The pursuit in February began after traffic police officers spotted the seven-seater car changing lanes recklessly on the San Tin Highway in the New Territories, cutting in front of other vehicles at high speed.
Suspecting the driver might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, an officer tried to pull him over, but the driver sped off, prompting police to give chase.
The car wove between other vehicles along the Fanling Highway before hitting three cars and a road divider near Dawning Views residential estate and then flipping over.
The driver, 37, was confirmed dead after being pulled out of the vehicle. His passenger was pronounced dead later in hospital.
Two men and a woman in two of the cars asked to slow down, were injured. An officer in pursuit on a motorcycle was also hurt.
Police brass established a review committee last month, chaired by Cadman, to examine guidelines on stopping vehicles, setting up roadblocks and car chases.