A police officer had nine punches rained on his head within five seconds in Tsim Sha Tsui, Apple Daily reported Wednesday.
Wong Wai-for, 40, from Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station, was patrolling the neighborhood Tuesday morning when he saw Tahir Mohammad, 35, hitting the glass window of a foreign exchange shop in Chungking Mansions at around 10 a.m.
Close-circuit television footage showed Wong approaching Mohammad from behind and grabbing his shoulder.
Shocked, Mohammad instantly turned around and started throwing punches at Wong.
Two security guards came to the rescue, separating the two men.
Police later arrested Mohammad on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and criminal damage.
Witnesses said Mohammad was unhappy with the exchange rate when he converted more than HK$10,000 into British pounds at the foreign exchange shop.
Mohammad reportedly told police he has a record of mental illness.
Commissioner of Police Andy Tsang said he is highly concerned about the case but insisted that front-line officers have the necessary training and equipment to handle situations like this.
The newspaper cited sources as saying Wong was grabbing Mohammad with one hand and pressing the emergency help button on his uniform with the other and so was unable to fight back.
Hong Kong Boxing Association honorary chairman Alex Tsui Ka-kit said it was unwise for Wong to approach the suspect from behind, especially while he was receiving money.
Police officers should make their identity known to suspects, Tsui said, so as not to provoke drastic reactions.
The CCTV footage went viral on the internet Tuesday. Many netizens showed little sympathy for the police officer, and some even said Mohammad reacted appropriately when grabbed from behind.
Dr. Chung Kim-wah of the department of applied social sciences at Hong Kong Polytechnic University said the police officer was a victim in the case.
The way he was taunted by internet users could be related to the overaggressiveness of some of the police officers during the recent Occupy protests, Chung said. Clearly, there is division in society, he said.
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