A wedding photographer has been acquitted of assaulting a police officer during the Mong Kok protests last February. The verdict was handed down at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Churk Ling-hon, 33, was accused of twice using a 2.8m-long bamboo stick to attack a police officer holding a plastic shield at Shantung Street on the night of the clashes.

Police at the Mong Kok protest. File Photo: Kris Cheng, HKFP.
Police at the Mong Kok protest. File Photo: Kris Cheng, HKFP.

However, according to the defence, Churk was only carrying a handheld camera and video equipment, and did not pick up bamboo sticks at any point, RTHK reported.

Magistrate Chan Wai-mun said that although many video clips depicting the events showed that the officer was indeed attacked with a bamboo stick by a protester, there was no evidence to indicate that the defendant was the demonstrator in question. The magistrate added that the bamboo stick found next to the defendant could have been left behind by other protesters.

Kowloon City Law Courts Building
Kowloon City Law Courts Building. Photo: Brandon Stark.

The magistrate further observed that the defendant was found with video equipment when subdued by the police. The magistrate said an average person would need both their hands to lift a long bamboo stick and concluded that if the defendant had been holding video equipment at the time, it would have been impossible for him to be able to hold the stick in the other hand and attack the officer.

However, the magistrate said that taking shots of the officers and protesters on the frontlines should not be encouraged as it could obstruct the police’s execution of duty and endanger one’s personal safety. She refused the defendant’s application for costs, Commercial Radio reported.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.