A man has accused the police of refusing to investigate after a woman grabbed his phone during a June 14 protest against the Express Rail Link’s controversial joint checkpoint.

On the day the proposal was passed at the Legislative Council, pro-democracy lawmakers led a rally outside the building in opposition to the plan. A crowd of around 200 attended the rally, which was met by a pro-Beijing counter-protest of about 20 people.

A participant, Lau Yu-sun, said he was filming a clash between pro-democracy and pro-China demonstrators that day. He said “those from the five-star flag side were attacking the opposition citizens.”

James To, Lau Yu-sun. Photo: inmedia.hk.

He said that, during the standoff, a woman knocked the phone out of his hand and walked away. Lau said she had it in her possession for about 30 seconds before giving it back to him by shoving it down his shirt. He could not see what she was doing with his phone, but he found that it had been turned off after it was returned.

He said he called the police, and an officer attempted to find the woman in the crowd of pro-China protesters, but the demonstrators shouted at him until the officer left.

About 10 to 20 minutes later, she was stopped by another group of officers and questioned. But Lau said he was told by an officer with the number 58615 that Chief Inspector Kwok Chun-kit of Central District had ordered that no statements be taken regarding the incident.

Pro-Beijing protesters outside the legislature on June 14. File photo: InMediahk.net.

Lau said he went to the Central Police Station the next day with the footage on his phone and a witness, but was again told that the police would not follow up. He said the police told him they were following Kwok’s orders.

‘Dereliction of duty’

“I think this is unfair,” Lau said, adding that police made an arrest when lawmaker Ted Hui snatched a phone from a government employee, but did they not follow up on his case. He sought help from the Democratic Party to publicise the case and wrote an open letter to Kwok asking him to explain.

James To, Lau Yu-sun. Photo: inmedia.hk.

Democratic Party lawmaker James To said it may have been difficult for police to act at the scene as it may have caused chaos, but that they should have followed up on it the next day.

“It’s hard to believe that this is a reasonable way for police to deal with a possible criminal case,” To said.

“After understanding the general facts of the case it is almost imperative to take a statement from the complainant and look at the alleged video clips showing the… grabbing of the mobile phone,” To said.

File photo: InMediahk.net.

“Well without taking a statement – or even ordering or prohibiting the taking of a statement and issuing an order to the police officer at the scene and subsequently on the second day – I think is obviously illogical, and I haven’t seen such a practice for tens of years, and I wouldn’t imagine a reasonable police force would do something like that.”

“I believe this is dereliction of duty,” To said, and called for higher-ups in the police force to investigate.

In response to HKFP’s enquiries, the police said officers were told after they arrived on the scene that Lau’s phone had been returned. After investigating, they believed it did not contain criminal elements and classified the case as a “dispute.”

The police newsroom sent an update on Monday evening saying that they contacted Lau after the press conference for more information, but Lau said he was leaving town and would contact the police when he returns. The police added that they are actively following up on the matter.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.