Hong Kong police officer makes a grave safety error waving a shotgun in protesters' faces
- A Hong Kong policeman waved a gun at protesters on Tuesday with his finger on the trigger of a shotgun that could've been loaded with lethal rounds.
- More than one million protesters in Hong Kong have demonstrated in the streets against a proposed law that would allow China power to challenge the islands' freedoms.
- The protesters have increasingly been targeted by violence from police and armed gangsters.
- Police knew of an open secret that a gang attack was planned on commuters in a metro station, and did nothing to stop it.
- For more stories, go to www.businessinsider.co.za.
A Hong Kong policeman waved a gun at protesters on Tuesday with his finger on the trigger of a shotgun that looked set to fire lethal rounds, sources on the ground indicate.
The protesters chanted "free the martyrs" as 44 charged with rioting left the police station on bail. Video of the incident shows a chaotic scene with the South China Morning Post reporting eggs were thrown at the building.
One police officer, captured on multiple cameras from multiple angles, waved a Remington shotgun at the crowd and aimed it at individuals.
In some pictures, the officer is seen with his finger on the shotgun's trigger. This is extremely poor trigger discipline that can and does frequently lead to unintentional injury and death. In the US, the military and police are trained to avoid putting their finger on a weapon's trigger unless they intend to fire.
Austin Ramzy, a New York Times reporter in Hong Kong, tweeted that the model 870 Remington held by the officer did not appear to be the model that had fired less lethal rounds in previous confrontations.
The Hong Kong Free Press posted images clearly showing the officer in question with his finger on the trigger. The South China Morning Post reported that the gun had been loaded with bean bag rounds, another less lethal alternative to buckshot or slugs.
While Hong Kong police have used less lethal rounds like rubber bullets, the rounds can still kill - especially at close range.
Hong Kong in chaos
Hong Kong's police force has come under intense scrutiny over the last two months after meeting rallies opposing a bill that would allow mainland China greater control over the lives of Hong Kongers with force.
The bill, which would allow China's ruling Communist party to extradite those it accuses of breaking laws in Hong Kong to stand trial on the mainland, met with swift and intense resistance in some of the largest protests in the history of humanity. As many as two million people may have taken to the streets in June to protest the bill.
In Hong Kong, a former British colony, citizens enjoy freedoms not seen in mainland China. In China, speech and media undergoes heavy censorship, and people can go to jail for expressing opinions contrary to the party line.
After months of protest that saw Hong Kongers succeed in forcing their government to shelve the bill, another group of protesters stormed the city's legislative building and covered up China's seal, something the mainland took as a serious insult.
Later, a group of men in white shirts, suspected gangsters working with the Hong Kong police, descended on a major train station and beat passengers on trains indiscriminately with metal poles. Despite footage of police officers patting armed white shirts on the shoulder, the police arrested only six men.
"People knew before the attacks," that gangsters would storm the metro station, Evan Fowler, an associate fellow at the Henry Jackson Society who was born and raised in Hong Kong, told Business Insider. "People were very aware. Indeed even the police have now admitted they had intelligence days before the attack that something was going down but they chose not to act on the intelligence."
"That actually again backfired. All it led to was people feeling even more angry, even more frustrated with the police," he continued.
The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office under the State Council, the Chinese government agency responsible for coordination between the mainland and the two territories, on Monday held the first press conference of its 22-year history to address the protests.
The office stated its goal to swiftly punish those guilty of violent acts, and warned that continued chaos would cause all of Hong Kong to "suffer" if they didn't fall into line.
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