A 43-year-old man is in a critical condition after he was shot by a police officer three times on Peng Chau on Tuesday.

Two officers were responding to a noise complaint at a Wing On Street unit on the outlying island. Police say the Filipino man – who was unarmed – “turned emotional” before pushing, then assaulting, an officer with his hands.

The scene on Peng Chau on Tuesday night. Photo: Hong Kong police Facebook, screenshot.

The man was sent to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital by helicopter in a conscious state, suffering from gunshot wounds to the hand and abdomen. Two male police officers also sustained minor injuries during the incident and were sent to Ruttonjee Hospital by helicopter.

“When police officers sped to scene and conducted investigation, a foreign man suddenly turned emotional, suspectedly assaulted a male police officer with hands, pushed him down the stairs, chased him and attempted to assault him again,” a police press release said on Friday. “Facing threats to life, the male police officer gave verbal warnings to the foreign man but in vain and subsequently fired three shots at him.”

Another 33-year-old Filipino man was arrested and detained for allegedly assaulting and obstructing police officers.

Footage circulating online appears to show the injured suspect. Photo: Internet.

At a Wednesday press conference, police defended the decision to open fire: “In this situation, our officer followed our use of force guidelines,” acting marine police superintendent Au Yeung Ki said, according to RTHK. “After an initial probe, we feel that the colleague may indeed feel his life was under threat, and he may be seriously wounded. It was suitable for him to use his gun.” Au added that the suspect was 1.8 metres tall and ignored warnings.

A press conference on Wednesday. Photo: Hong Kong police, screenshot.

The officer who fired the shots had been in the force for 35 years and it was the first time he had fired his weapon, police reportedly said.

Live fire rare

It is rare for Hong Kong police to use live ammunition, and even rarer on the normally sleepy outlying island of Peng Chau.

Live rounds were used twice during the 2019 protests and unrest. And in March 2009, Dil Bahadur Limbu – an unarmed Nepalese man – was shot dead by a policeman in Ho Man Tin. The incident caused a public outcry among the South Asian community after a coroner ruled his death was “a lawful killing.”

View from Finger Hill on Peng Chau. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The Regional Crime Unit of Marine is investigating the Peng Chau case. Police have urged witnesses to come forward.

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Tom Grundy

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.