A man’s death in police custody has raised concerns over the tactics used to subdue him during his arrest.
At around 5pm last Thursday, officers from the Yau Tsim District were alerted to a man who had allegedly thrown a glass bottle at a moving vehicle around Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. He was arrested on suspicion of property damage, assaulting a police officer and possession of a dangerous drug.
According to an Apple Daily video recorded by an eyewitness, an officer appeared to kneel on the suspect’s neck as he laid on his stomach. The eyewitness told Apple Daily that officers had exerted pressure on his body for five to seven minutes without handcuffing him. At least one passerby attempted to interfere but was driven away by police.
In a statement shared with HKFP, police said the man had resisted arrest and struggled “vigorously”: “With the assistance of passersby, officers subdued the man with appropriate use of force. He was taken to a police car for further investigation, where around four grams of suspected heroin was found in his possession.”
Stand News cited a medic as saying the suspect had suffered from a cardiac arrest in the police car. Ambulance medics did cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to restart his heart which, according to the medic, was 19 minutes after police discovered he had collapsed.
He was sent to the Accident and Emergency Room at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei and later transferred to the Intensive Care Unit, where he died at 5:45 pm last Friday.
The force did not respond to an enquiry from Stand News on whether officers attempted to perform CPR on the suspect in the car.
Police told HKFP that the case will be followed up on by the West Kowloon Regional Crime Unit and a postmortem will be carried out to determine the cause of his death.
“Officers have contacted eyewitness and conducted a thorough investigation of the scene,” they said.