Retired police officer Frankly Chu was remanded in custody after the High Court dismissed his appeal on Friday.
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 him hitting pedestrians with a baton without prior warning.
Chu was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment but only spent two weeks in jail in late 2017 before being released on bail. He appealed both his conviction and sentence, and the case was heard before judge Albert Wong Sung-hau last month.
In his 85-page judgment, Wong ruled that Chu’s baton strike was an unlawful act performed by a senior police officer in the course of duty, adding that such acts would shake the public’s confidence in the police.
“There is a reasonable expectation from the community of what a senior police officer should do and not do. What the Appellant did, sadly, failed to meet the expectation,” Wong wrote. “He also set a very bad example to his subordinates.”
Wong said the attack was out of character for Chu, but that did not make his behaviour excusable.
“[Chu] must have proved himself to be an outstanding member of the Police Force. He fell from grace for a single strike with his baton, in the course of discharging his duty in a difficult situation, and at a difficult time not only for the Police but also for the whole community of Hong Kong,” Wong wrote.
‘No genuine remorse’
Wong rejected all six grounds of appeal against Chu’s conviction. Chu’s lawyer Charlotte Draycott tried to submit new video evidence to the court during the appeal hearing, but the court said the new evidence would not affect its view on what happened.
“There is no doubt that the Appellant and his colleagues were in a very difficult situation. However, at the very moment before the strike, what I can see from the video footages were people moving steadily on the pavement and there was no sign of non-compliance, let alone any aggressive or abusive behavior,” Wong wrote.
In his judgment, Wong also stressed that excessive force cannot be used. Even if a person believes that the situation requires him to use force, the law does not permit him to use whatever force he wants to achieve his aim, Wong said.
Chu also appealed against his sentence, but was again rejected by Wong. The judge noted in particular that a community service order would be unsuitable because Chu “did not show he has genuine remorse.”
Wong said the court must be “very cautious” in imposing a deterrent sentence on a person of good character, but that consideration must be counter-balanced by the fact that Chu had used unlawful force.
Rally outside High Court
Lawyer Peter Pannu, who also represented Chu, said he was dissatsified with the result. Pannu said it was possible that Chu may appeal further.
“[Chu] was just enforcing the law. Think about it, how will the police dare to enforce the law in Hong Kong [after this ruling]?” Pannu told reporters.
On Friday, a rally in Chu’s support was held outside the High Court. After the ruling was announced, supporters held up banners saying “injustice” and said they will organise a march urging the chief executive to pardon Chu.
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