Lawyers for retired police officer Frankly Chu have argued that he should not have been convicted of using unlawful force unless he was proven to have intended it. At an appeal hearing on Wednesday, they also applied to submit fresh video footage showing a more complete account of Chu’s actions.

Chu was convicted of assault occasioning bodily harm last December for striking a pedestrian in Mong Kok during the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests. Videos taken on November 26, 2014 appeared to show pedestrians being hit with a baton without prior warning.

Frankly Chu trial
Frankly Chu. Photo: Citizen News.

Chu was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment but only spent two weeks in jail in late 2017 before being released on bail. His appeal against the conviction and sentence was heard at the High Court on Wednesday.

Chu was represented by senior counsel Charlotte Draycott, who said the magistrate had erred in wholely accepting the testimony of the alleged victim Osman Cheng.

Draycott said that Chu had honestly believed that Cheng would act aggressively, and his use of force was for the purposes of crowd control. Chu should be found not guilty if he believed his use of force was necessary as part of performing his duties, she said.

Superintendent Chu King-wai baton
Frankly Chu was filmed using baton against pedestrians in Mong Kok during Occupy.

Draycott also applied to submit a video clip from Apple Daily that was not seen during the trial phase. The video allegedly shows the incident from a different angle and has no editing cuts.

In court, Draycott played the video frame-by-frame and compared various video clips. She said the magistrate had incorrectly accepted Cheng as an “inherently credible witness” at trial, and urged the judge to treat the evidence critically.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, represented by senior counsel Daniel Marash, said that the first instance conviction did not only depend on the video footage. Marash said that Cheng did not resist or charge towards police officers, and the new video failed to disprove this.

High Court
The High Court, Admiralty. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

Judge Albert Wong Sung-hau said he would need to hear the complete submissions from both sides before deciding whether to admit the new video footage into evidence.

The two-day appeal hearing continues on Thursday.

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.