An American banker seen in a now-viral video grappling with a man who turned out to be an off-duty police officer in an MTR station was charged with common assault and assaulting an officer today.
The incident happened on Saturday at Causeway Bay MTR after an off-duty police officer and another man reportedly attempted to stop someone suspected of jumping the turnstile, Apple Daily reports. The banker, identified as Samuel Phillip Bickett, and another foreigner intervened after apparently seeing the two men grabbing the turnstile jumper.
In a video that began circulating online, a group of people — one of whom is alleged an off-duty cop — can be seen having a heated argument at Exit F of Causeway Bay station in which the unidentified foreign man can be heard demanding someone call the police.
Another man, also later revealed to be an off-duty cop, turns up holding a collapsible baton and begins angrily shouting “What are you doing?” as the foreigner asks if he is a policeman.
The officer first replies “no,” then says “yes” when asked again.
The banker, who is standing to the side in a blue sweater, then appears to unsuccessfully attempt to snatch the baton from the officer’s hand, at which point the officer extends the baton and appears to swing it at him, but topples over a railing. The man can then be seen climbing on top of the officer and attempting to wrest the baton away as upset onlookers shout, “If you’re a cop, get your license out!”
The crowd becomes increasingly agitated, shouting, “If you’d take out your ID, everything will be fine.”
The police officer eventually gets up, with the banker still holding on to the baton, demanding in Mandarin that the officer “put it on the floor.”
The off-duty cop repeated refuses to show his ID, saying, “He hit me first.” Bystanders responded, “We all saw you hit someone with the baton first!”
Both sides continue to quarrel over who had initiated the violence, and more officers subsequently arrive at the scene to try and restore the peace.
The American appeared in court today, with his lawyer offering to pay bail in the amount of HK$1,000 (about US$128), but the presiding magistrate thought the amount was too low given his occupation. His defense lawyer agreed to increase the amount, and bail was set at HK$10,000. The case was postponed until Feb. 4.
At a regular police press conference today, Chief Superintendent Kong Wing Cheung said that all police are expected to follow new measures, spurred by the city’s long-running protest movement, in which officers are to be equipped with a baton, whether on or off duty.