February 6, 2023

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Judge tells 23-year-old Chow Pak-kwan he has only himself to blame for the physical injuries and mental trauma he suffered.

A Hong Kong man who was shot by police at close range during the 2019 democracy protests has been jailed for six years on charges including obstructing a police officer and attempted robbery of the officer’s gun.

Chow Pak-kwan, now 23, lost his right kidney and was injured in his liver and spine after he was shot at a road intersection during a fracas between protesters and police.

Footage of the incident on November 11, 2019 showed an armed police officer grappling with another protester on the street and Chow then appearing at the crossing.

Shortly afterwards the officer, who was assigned to the traffic division, fires at the black-clad Chow, who was unarmed. Another man then appears to try and grab the officer’s gun, after which the officer fires two more shots. The entire incident was live-streamed on Facebook.

On Wednesday, Judge Adriana Tse sentenced Chow to six years in jail on charges that also included an attempt to escape from custody.

The judge said Chow’s attempt to grab the officer’s gun could have inflamed the crowd’s emotions and was a factor contributing to the lengthy sentence. Chow’s defence lawyers had argued he was not trying to grab the gun but to push it away.

Woo Tsz-kin, also a defendant in the case, was also jailed for six years after being found guilty of obstructing a police officer and attempted robbery of the officer’s gun.

The incident took place as protesters tried to mobilise Hong Kong for a general strike, blocking roads as part of the action.

Woo and Chow, who pleaded not guilty, were convicted in August and remanded in custody. Both men said they had been traumatised by what had happened, with Chow reporting serious damage to his health.

Tse told them they had “only have themselves to blame” for the physical injuries and mental conditions they suffered, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.

The protest took place at the height of the 2019 protests, which began in opposition to a proposed extradition bill but evolved into calls for democracy and sometimes turned violent.

Protesters accused the police of brutality and an investigation into police actions was one of their key demands. Rights groups said police sometimes used excessive force to quell the protests, with Chow’s shooting sometimes cited as an example.

Police say officers deployed to the protests acted in accordance with the law and followed internal protocols.

The officer who shot Chow was granted anonymity by the court and referred to only as “Officer A”. In a testimony, he said he had felt his life was in danger.

After the incident Amnesty International called for the officer’s immediate suspension and an investigation into his decision to fire live rounds into the crowd. A spokesman for the force said that the officer had not deviated from its guidelines.

By August this year, Hong Kong had arrested nearly 10,300 people over the 2019 protests and prosecuted or initiated legal proceedings against 2,900 of them, according to police.

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