Police defend officer's action on elderly woman in TST dispersal

December 03, 2019 12:09
Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung of the PPRB said people should not obstruct the way when police are conducting an operation. Photo: RTHK video screenshot

Police denied that an officer pushed an elderly woman to the ground on purpose during a dispersal operation in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday.

In a press briefing on Monday afternoon, Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung of the Police Public Relations Branch (PPRB) said the officer in question "was holding a baton in front of his chest, and [he] walked towards the lady with intent to block her way and to minimize her obstruction of [the police’s] ongoing dispersal operation", the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

“As you can see from the video, suddenly the woman knelt down and our officer at that time still held his baton in front of his chest. They had body contact before she fell to the ground. This was an unintended result which we did not want to see,” Kong said.

“If anyone stands in front of us trying to block our way during our dispersal operation, we have to give them a warning to leave and if they ignore our warning, we may take necessary action to push them away," he added.

Kong said the woman could file a complaint with the police.

The incident took place near the East Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station, where the officer was caught on camera shoving the woman who appeared to be begging for officers to stop using pepper spray to disperse a crowd, RTHK reported.

Kong said it was "extremely not ideal" for someone to try to prevent officers from moving forward in the operation.

Citizens, no matter what their roles are, should not obstruct the way when officers are doing their job, he added.

In the same press conference, Senior Superintendent (Operations) Wong Wai-shun said officers “will not use force if there is no violence in front of [them].”

“Before we use force, we will give a warning. And people there have their responsibility and their duty to co-operate with police,” Wong said.

He said elderly people and children should avoid going to protests, which could turn violent.

“The main problem is why people bring these people in. Do they care about their children? Do they care about these elderly? I am not saying the elderly are a problem, I am not saying the children are a problem. But if the situation turns violent, I do not think good people should stay there,” Wong said.

PPRB Chief Superintendent Kenneth Kwok Ka-chuen, meanwhile, described as a misunderstanding an incident involving an RTHK reporter and the police during a dispersal operation in Whampoa on Sunday night.

The journalist was stopped and searched by the police after he allegedly bumped an officer “intentionally” during the dispersal operation. 

In a statement issued on Monday, the RTHK Programme Staff Union demanded an apology from the police force and that it stop any hostile acts against journalists. 

Police said 58 people, aged 14 to 36, were arrested during protests over the weekend for various offenses, including participating in an unlawful assembly, possession of an offensive weapon and assaulting a police officer.

The arrests brought the total to 5,947 – 4,415 males and 1,532 females – since the protest movement began in June.

Speaking to reporters before the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said violence again marred protests over the weekend, and police had no choice but to use tear gas. 

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