Hong Kong police have defended the shooting of a schoolboy in Tsuen Wan at close range with live ammunition as an act of self-defence.

YouTube video

A video filmed by the University of Hong Kong Student Union’s Campus TV on Tuesday appeared to show the 18-year-old secondary school student being shot at close range with a pistol during clashes with several riot police on Hoi Pa Street at around 4pm.

A different video filmed by the City University Student Union’s Editorial Board appeared to show a group of protesters attacking a police officer who fell to the ground.

Another officer holding a pistol rushed to the scene and the student appeared to hit him with a rod. The officer then shot the student.

Police Public Relations Branch Senior Superintendent Yolanda Yu defended the officer’s action in a video on Facebook, saying that he did so to save himself and his colleague from attack.

“The police officers’ lives were under serious threat. To save his own life and his colleague’s, he fired a shot at the assailant,” she said.

“The police do not wish to see anyone injured in the incident. It is very heartbreaking. We must warn again that all rioters must stop illegal acts. The police will continue to enforce the law seriously,” she added.

YouTube video

The student was sent to the Princess Margaret Hospital in a critical condition.


【全港多區有暴動行為】現時在港九新界有多區有暴動的行為,暴徒在各區放火及大肆破壞,已經有多人受傷。警方緊急呼籲所有市民應該留在安全地方,切勿外出,留意最新狀況。[Rioting acts across Hong Kong]Currently, there are rioting acts across Kowloon, Hong Kong Island and the New Territories. Rioters have started fires and committed mass property damage, injuring many people. The Police urgently appeal to every member of the public to stay in safe places, avoid going outdoors and stay tuned to the latest situation.

Posted by 香港警察 Hong Kong Police on Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Ming Pao cited unnamed sources as saying that the bullet had hit the student’s left lung and was three centimetres away from his heart. He had pneumothorax—known as a collapsed lung—and a tube inserted to release the air inside.

The source told the newspaper that he was sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to remove the bullet and will stay in the intensive care unit.

The incident occurred during citywide unrest as the People’s Republic of China celebrated its 70th anniversary. It followed over 17 consecutive weeks of protests sparked by a now-soon-to-be-withdrawn extradition bill which would have enabled fugitive transfers to China.

At least four live rounds were also fired in other districts.

October 1 protest
The student who was shot by the police. Photo: Stand News.

Twenty-four pro-democracy lawmakers issued a statement saying that the police had unnecessarily increased their use of force.

“The officer’s firing at close range was more like an assault than self-defence. Moreover, each officer has enough equipment to defend and attack, and it was questionable whether it was necessary to use a live round,” they said.

They condemned Chief Executive Carrie Lam for being absent from Hong Kong amid the chaos after she flew to Beijing for the national celebrations.

“This is very shameless and irresponsible—it is equal to authorising the police to govern Hong Kong,” they said.

October 1 extradition
Photo: Campus TV, HKUSU.

The pro-Beijing New People’s Party said it strongly condemned the citywide protests in Hong Kong as violent.

“On the incident that a Form five student was shot by the police, the New People’s Party strongly condemns people who instigate and encourage young people—especially secondary school students – to participate in illegal violent protests in the false name of democracy and freedom,” the party’s statement said.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement: “Whilst there is no excuse for violence, the use of live ammunition is disproportionate, and only risks inflaming the situation.”

“This incident underlines the need for a constructive dialogue to address the legitimate concerns of the people of Hong Kong. We need to see restraint and a de-escalation from both protestors and the Hong Kong authorities,” he added.

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.