Chow Pak-kwan, who sustained a gunshot wound during the 2019 protests and unrest, has been sentenced to 6 years in prison after being convicted of three charges, including attempting to snatch a police officer’s gun.

Chow Pak-kwan
Chow Pak-kwan, who sustained a gunshot wound during the protests in 2019, arrives at District Court on August 29, 2022. Photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP.

Chow, who was 21 when he was shot by a traffic officer during a protest in Sai Wan Ho on November 11, 2019, was also found guilty of obstructing a police officer and attempting to escape from legal custody. His co-defendant Woo Tsz-kin, who was charged with attempting to snatch an officer’s gun and obstructing a police officer, was convicted of both charges.

The pair, who have both been remanded in custody since their convictions in August, appeared in front of District Court Judge Adriana Tse on Wednesday afternoon.

Both were sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.

Tse said the circumstances under which the offences were committed were more serious than in previous cases, as people had blocked roads and paralysed traffic at that time.

The judge said the two defendants were “troublemakers” who had planned to participate in the blockade.

november 11 arrest
Sai Wan Ho on November 11, 2019. Photo: Kevin Cheng/United Social Press.

When the pair saw that a police officer was on his own and that others at the scene were hostile towards the police, Tse said they “went forward to bully the lone officer… in a thuggish manner, and to publicly defy the power of the police.”

Tse agreed with the defence barrister that the defendants were unarmed when attempting to take the officer’s gun. However, she said the victim in this case was “not an ordinary citizen, but a uniformed officer who was carrying out his duty,” later adding that Chow and Woo challenged the law enforcement power of the police.

Additionally, the judge said Chow and Woo’s actions could have stirred up the emotions of others at the scene and made the situation more dangerous for the officer.

After taking into account the “lack of remorse” by the defendants, Tse set their sentences at six years for the attempted robbery of the officer’s gun. They were permitted to serve their other sentences concurrently.

‘Intentionally misleading’

Chow had told the court that he had suffered serious trauma after sustaining the gunshot, as he had to have part of his liver, kidney and gallbladder removed in the initial surgery, which left him with a condition called adhesive small bowel obstruction (ASBO).

The defendant said that since the surgery, he has not been able to stand for a long period of time, while his intestinal issued had hampered his ability to ingest food often resulted in stomach ache.

The court had also heard that Chow had undergone several operations and gone to different doctors but they were unable to cure his condition. Chow said he had been warned that his life may be at risk if his symptoms were not treated in a timely manner.

Tse, however, said Chow’s claims “completely contradicted” the medical reports submitted to court.

Chow Pak-kwan
Chow Pak-kwan, who sustained a gunshot wound during the protests in 2019, arrives at District Court on August 29, 2022. Photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP.

Tse said the report stated that Chow’s clinical condition was stabilised after his initial surgery and he was experiencing a “smooth recovery.”

She added that Chow did not tell his doctors that he could not stand for long periods, and each episode ofASBO passed without complication and was “resolved spontaneously after conservative management.”

Tse said the defendant had not experienced any invasive surgeries for his ASBO and suggesting that his life was at risk was “exaggerated, inconsistent with the facts, and intentionally misleading the court.”

While the judge also heard that Woo had suffered from PTSD after the incident, she said both defendants “only have themselves to blame” for all of the physical injuries and mental conditions they suffered.

‘Additional hardship’

During mitigation, Chow’s lawyer revealed that his client had been “suffering a lot” due to intestinal issues following surgery received as a result of his gunshot wound.

Although Chow was advised by doctors to eat smaller portions but more frequenty, the lawyer said the Correctional Services Department would not allow it. Over the months that he has been in remand, Chow has had to throw away food with every meal.

The lawyer added that Chow did not receive enough medicine. As prison staff would only distribute painkillers three times a day, Chow’s lawyer said his client would be left waiting for hours in pain for the next dosage.

district court
Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

The judge said she was “a bit surprised” by the lawyer’s speech, as she had heard that a cancer patient was “well-treated” in prison.

Chow’s lawyer urged the judge to take into account the suffering his client has been through.

“In cases related to riots or social incidents, many young people with a bright prospect had their future ruined. But in [Chow’s] case, he had not simply lost his prospect, but endured a lot of additional hardship.”

Sai Wan Ho clashes

On the morning of November 11, 2019, protesters gathered in multiple districts to block traffic and disrupt the rush hour commute in an attempt to mobilise a city-wide strike. Protesters clashed with police in Sai Wan Ho, where demonstrators had set up road blocks. A video showed a police officer, who was subduing a protester, shooting a man – Chow – at close range dressed head to toe in black.

Another man then appeared to try and grab the officer’s gun, a clip showed, after which the officer fired two more shots.

Chow was rushed to hospital in critical condition, and local media reported that his kidney and half of his liver were removed.

Sai Wan Ho protest screenshot
A protest in Sai Wan Ho on November 11, 2019, in which a traffic cop fired live rounds. Screenshot: Cupid Producer.

The officer was earlier granted anonymity by the court, and was known only as “officer A.”

During the trial in May, Senior Counsel Lawrence Lok, representing Chow, argued that “officer A” – a traffic policeman – had never taken part in operations that involved the subduing of protesters before the incident, and looked “a bit panic-stricken” in a clip of him opening fire, local court reporting outlet The Witness said.

Lok said the court should consider whether the officer may have been “oversensitive” due to his lack of experience.

Around 10,250 people have been arrested in connection with the 2019 protests, around 40 per cent of whom were secondary school or university students.

The protests tapered off in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the passing of Beijing’s national security law.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.