Hong Kong protester charged with assault for biting off police officer’s finger

Was it self-defence or intentional?

Emily Lo | July 18, 2019 @ 06:45 pm


A Hong Kong protester accused of biting off a police officer’s finger has been charged in court.

Was it intentional?

The protester allegedly bit off a police officer’s finger during one of the violent clashes inside a shopping mall on July 14, after a lawful protest in the afternoon in Sha Tin, a residential area in the New Territories of Hong Kong.

He is now being charged with four offences.

At least one police officer who marched into the mall to disperse protesters was caught on video being beaten up by protesters.

However, people in Hong Kong are speculating over whether the protester intentionally bit the police officer’s finger, or if he did it out of self-defence.

Protester charged with assaulting police officer and more

In a widely circulated photo, a protester seen being dragged to the floor by a number of police officers was apparently biting one of the officers.

The police officer had two of his fingers in the protester’s right eye.

In a video uploaded by RTHK, a police officer showed his half-bitten finger to the media, claiming that it was bitten off by a protester during a clash.

Screenshot via RTHK

It has not been confirmed if it is the police officer seen in the above two photos.

Not just one officer

The July 14 melee saw two police officers having their fingers bitten off, according to Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung.

The arrested protester, aged 22, is allegedly a graduate of the University of Hong Kong.

He is accused of biting off part of a police officer’s finger, as well as fracturing the finger of another officer.

Four charges

According to RTHK, he is now being charged with four offences, including assaulting police officer, assault with an intent to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH), and failing to carry an identity document.

Once convicted of wounding with intent to cause GBH, the most serious offence among all, he could face life imprisonment.

Following his court appearance on July 16, the protester was given a cash bail of HK$10,000 (S$1,741) and a surety of HK$10,000, together with other conditions, including prohibiting him from entering New Town Plaza mall, reported South China Morning Post.

Assault with intent or self-defence?

The incident has sparked a debate on social media on whether the protester bit the police officer’s finger intentionally, or if he did it out of self-defence after having his eye gouged by the officer.

A photo sequence uploaded to Facebook by USP United Social Press 社媒 on July 15 might give another perspective regarding what exactly happened that night.

The photos were taken by Tam Ming Keung from USP, who captured the series of actions against the protester before and after he was taken to the floor by a group of police officers:

Images by Tam Ming Keung @ USP United Social Press 社媒/ Facebook

USP wrote:

The incident took place at 9:55pm, where the protester in white t-shirt first ran past a police officer and was pointed at by another police officer. A group of police officers then dashed towards the protester and pushed him to the ground. During the process, a police officer was poking two of his fingers into the protester’s right eye.

Another video uploaded by Apple Daily showed the incident from another angle:

Speaking to HK01 about the photo sequence, USP photographer Tam Ming Keung said:

Rather than changing public opinion, [the photo sequence] reflects the validity of news, especially when media have their own framing and agenda setting. [The photo sequence] offers alternative facts in ways similar to a parallel universe. We simply report by providing another angle, as well as presenting the reality.

Top image via Tam Ming Keung @ USP United Social Press 社媒

About Emily Lo

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