A Hong Kong police officer was Friday convicted of misconduct for failing to stop two other policemen from assaulting an elderly detainee while he was tied down to a hospital bed.
A District Court judge found Lam Yik-sing guilty of misconduct in public office, saying he “intentionally” neglected his duty by failing to stop Au Kwok-wai and Tang Man-him from attacking Chung Chi-wah in the North District Hospital on June 26 last year.
In August last year, Chung’s sons and former lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting revealed security camera footage which appeared to show uniformed police officers Au and Tang punching the 62-year-old’s genitals, slapping his face and prodding him with a baton. Chung had been arrested – and was later convicted – for assaulting an officer while drunk.
The trio faced one count of misconduct in public office, with assault causing actual bodily harm as the alternative charge. Au, 26, and Tang, 25, admitted to the charge earlier, while Lam pleaded not guilty.
Judge Johnny Chan said the CCTV footage revealed an “unlawful and malicious attack.” He said Lam’s abandonment of his basic duty amounted to “serious misconduct” that could result in criminal liability.
“He witnessed the first and second defendant assaulting Mr Chung and did not intervene. This completely abandoned and neglected his duties as a police officer,” Chan wrote in his judgement.
The defence argued the 31-year-old officer never took part in the assault and had not in fact even witnessed it.
But Chan rejected this argument and said Lam could observe what was happening just by “slightly tilting” his head. He declared Lam an unreliable witness for claiming he had been thinking about work at the time.
“I believe it is not easy for a person to recall what they said days ago. Recalling what they were thinking at a particular time seems even more difficult. I think the third defendant’s testimony on this relevant part was not truthful at all,” Chan wrote.
The three will be remanded in custody until sentencing on December 18. According to local media, Au was suspended after the assault, while Tang and Lam have left the force.
Correction 5/12: A previous version of this headline incorrectly stated that the officer concerned was convicted of beating the detainee – we regret the error introduced in the editing process.