Hong Kong police have described an incident in which an officer deliberately shoved a kneeling woman so hard that her head whipped back into the concrete floor of an MTR station as an “unintended result” of their efforts to disperse a largely peaceful rally in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday.
The incident in question was filmed by local broadcaster Now TV as officers were pursuing protesters fleeing down the staircase and escalators of one of the exits of the Tsim Sha Tsui East MTR station.
A slight, middle-aged woman in white can be seen waving her hands and saying “don’t” in a bid to convince police to stop pepper-spraying the crowd. She’s then shoved several feet to the side by one of the officers, who then follows her, holding his baton like a crossbar between both hands. As the woman kneels down and begins to put up her hands, the same officer roughly shoves her again with the baton, causing her to fly backwards and crack her head on the floor.
At least two volunteers from the group Protect the Children and Demosisto member Ho Ka-yau can be seen in the video running to her aid. The woman is conscious, but can be heard telling people she feels dizzy. She also reportedly suffered swelling to her head, but refused to be taken to hospital.
Asked about the incident at yesterday’s regular police press conference, Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung of the Police Public Relations Branch said the incident was “an unintended result” of their dispersal operation.
Kong told reporters that two or three people were obstructing the police dispersal operation, so officers held their batons in front of their chests to drive people away.
“An officer walked towards the lady with the intent to block her and minimize the obstruction to our ongoing dispersal,” he said, in what could be charitably described as a massive understatement. “As I see in the video, they have body contact before she fell to the ground.”
Kong said police would look into the case, but that in the meantime, the woman could lodge a complaint with Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO).
In a question and answer session at the LegCo last week, Security Secretary John Lee said the CAPO had received almost 1,300 complaints of misconduct since Hong Kong’s protest movement began in earnest on June 9.
Lee went on to say that as the complaints were still being processed, no action has been taken against any officers so far.
In fact, even with near-daily instances of questionable use of police force emerging over the past few months, the only officer the police force appears to have publicly acknowledged suspending was the traffic cop who used his motorcycle to repeatedly run into a crowd of fleeing protesters on Nov. 11.
New Police Commissioner Chris Tang confirmed in a radio interview on Sunday that the officer in question had been reinstated pending the outcome of the investigation into the incident, HKFP reports.