A senior Hong Kong police commander warned that police officers "might have to kill someone or be killed themselves", as violence continues to escalate in the city's 16th consecutive weekend of protests.
CNN reported that police officers are increasingly worried about their own personal safety due to the rising level of physical force being used by the protesters.
Police in increasingly dangerous situations
At a background briefing for foreign media on Sep. 20, a senior Hong Kong police commander addressed the potential need for police officers to react with violence in order to defend themselves.
"Our officers are worried that the level of violence has got to such a level that they might have to kill someone or be killed themselves. We have been so restrained but in the face of such violence this pressure has become extremely dangerous," the commander said.
During the last week, multiple fights broke out between protesters and the police, with one side throwing petrol bombs and bricks and the other firing back with water cannons and tear gas.
In recent weeks, police officers have also resorted to pulling out their weapons and firing warning shots into the air during confrontations with protesters.
The Telegraph reports that the threshold for police officers to draw a weapon is if an officer feels his or her life is in danger.
"I haven't seen this kind of widespread lawlessness in the whole of my career. We are getting more and more worried about the possibility of death," the commander said.
Dismissed the Amnesty report as "not credible"
Recently, Amnesty International, a non-governmental organisation focused on human rights, released a report detailing instances of torture and abuse in police custody.
The organisation claimed that the Hong Kong police have engaged in a pattern of arbitrary arrests and retaliatory violence against people held in custody.
According to CNN, one man claimed police "beat him severely and threatened to break his hands if he tried to protect himself", while another officer "threatened to electrocute a man's genitals" if he would not unlock his phone.
However, police have hit back at these claims, stating that they "respected the rights of those in custody", and that there were complaint mechanisms for people to report alleged abuses.
During the same background briefing, the commander also showed a compilation video of acts of violence by protesters against bystanders, claiming that "we could be here watching these video clips until the end of the month if we wanted to".
He dismissed the Amnesty report as "not credible", and claimed that the police's actions were highly transparent, given the amount of press coverage shining upon the city currently.
He also admitted that although some officers may have overstepped the line in a "prolonged situation of this nature", there are procedures in place to deal with allegations of excessive use of force.
Top image from HKFP.