The police operation to clear protesters in Admiralty on June 12 left many injured. One of the videos from that day showing a young male protester coughing up blood has been viewed thousands of times on social media with some netizens claiming he had died.
This claim is false. He is alive and spoke with FactWire about the experience.
The young man claimed he did not charge at the officers, but he still sustained injuries to his face after police opened fire with tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds.
FactWire compared multiple videos from the incident and found police officers had fired straight at protesters at least 17 times within 15 minutes.
The protester, who chose to remain anonymous, is a high school student. He recalled he went to Admiralty after school and was mostly located under a flyover on Harcourt Road near Cotton Tree Drive.
At around 5 pm he peered out from behind some bushes near the People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Building and was shot by a tear gas round on the face and fainted and bled from the nose.
“I stayed here for a while, some people said there were not a lot of people ahead, so I went up to take a look. Someone gave me an umbrella. I was scared that something would happen to me, say I would be (shot with) tear gas, rubber bullets or bean bag rounds, so I opened up the umbrella to protect myself,” he told FactWire.
“When I carelessly peered out, I was hit between my left eye and nose.”
The protester said he saw a light brown round object hurtling towards him and when it landed, it felt like he was ruthlessly punched. He fainted and felt someone pull him away. Upon waking up, he saw paramedics surrounding him.
The protester emphasised that when he was shot, he was standing still and that he was not moving back and forth nor was he shouting. The teenager was three car lanes away from police who were on the other side of the barricades. Before the shot was fired, the police did not issue a warning.
He questioned the use of such force by police. “Police should not treat protesters like prey or as target practice. They have gone too far.”
Many people worried about his safety after the disturbing footage surfaced on social media.
FactWire verified his identity through his appearance, injuries, hospital admittance slip, and his clothes.
He said he was not coughing up blood due to internal injuries and that he was bleeding from the nose and had to breathe through his mouth. “I really thought I almost died, why did I not write a will before I came out?”
After he was sent to the hospital, the doctor said his nose was fractured and had sustained shoulder injuries but did not need to be hospitalised. Upon arriving at the hospital, the protester said other citizens helped him avoid police officers
stationed there. Therefore, he was not arrested.
He knows that his school has been in touch with Police Community Relations officers and worries he will eventually be prosecuted for participating in a peaceful demonstration.
The injured student could not provide the exact times from that day. The last video clip he filmed before getting shot was from 5:12 pm. The half-minute clip showed that there was tear gas all around and that protesters were retreating towards the direction of the Far East Finance Centre.
The video showing the young student coughing up blood near the center and being administered first aid was from 5:31pm. This suggests he was injured between 5:12 pm and 5:31 pm.
In another clip provided by a resident, someone in the video said the injured young man was hit by a tear gas round fired into the crowd.
FactWire has reviewed multiple videos from different sources. When the incident happened, the police line was at the intersection of Tim Wa Avenue and Harcourt Road, where there were more than 100 officers behind barricades.
A large number of protesters were standing under the Harcourt flyover, which is about three car lanes, or 25 meters away, on the other side of the barricades.
From 5:12 pm to 5:31 pm, police from their Tim Wa Avenue position fired at least four tear gas rounds, six rubber bullets, and 11 pepper balls into the crowd. The four tear gas rounds were fired straight towards the crowd. Other witnesses at the scene said they saw other protesters hit in the chest by tear gas rounds.
According to guidelines for using tear gas, police can fire tear gas with the gun pointed towards the sky or the ground.
Tear gas should only be fired in open outdoor spaces and should not be fired at indoor spaces where people could suffocate.
The police’s principles governing the use of force according to a Legislative Council document submitted in 2012 said to use only the minimum level of force required to achieve a lawful purpose and that the use of force must cease after this purpose is achieved.
Police officers should give a warning to indicate the intention to use force and the nature and degree of force to be used. Before the use of force, the police should also give people every opportunity to obey their orders.