Police fired pepper shots at biker, court told

Police officers testifying on day two of the trial of national security suspect Tong Ying-kit said the defendant drove past their check lines in Wan Chai on July 1 last year despite their warnings, with one policeman saying he fired two pepper shots to try to stop him.

Tong, 24, is charged with inciting secession, terrorism and dangerous driving for allegedly riding his motorbike into police while flying a protest flag.

Superintendent Tam Wan-yee told the court that there had been protesters in the area that afternoon and officers had been out in force to maintain public order.

She said at around 3:30pm, Tong’s motorbike sped past her and other police officers who had formed a check line at the junction of Hennessy Road and Luard Road.

Tam said the motorbike passed about a metre away from one officer, heading in the direction of Causeway Bay.

When cross-examined by defence lawyer Clive Grossman, Tam conceded that Tong could have directly driven into police officers there if he had wanted to, but he did not.

Senior inspector Wong Hon-wai, another officer who was stationed at the junction, said the motorbike had likely been speeding when it drove past them, estimating it was going above 50 kilometres per hour.

Wong said the driver’s behaviour had posed “an imminent danger” to officers. He said he had used a loudhailer ordering Tong to stop after he crossed the check line, but he did not comply.

Sergeant Choo Kong, who had been stationed at a second check line on Hennessy Road, said he had signalled for the motorbike to stop by raising his baton.

But the driver accelerated, he said, from around 40 to 60 kilometres per hour as he came closer to the check line, then drove past it.

When asked by the defence whether Tong had avoided running his motorbike into the police officers at the check line, Choo said Tong did avoid them “at the last moment”. He agreed that the driver could have hit them, had he intended to.

Policeman Wong Sun-wa, meanwhile, told the court that he was among a group of officers who tried to stop the motorbike at the junction of Luard Road and Jaffe Road.

He said before his team saw the vehicle, they had already been told by their commander that the driver was flying a protest flag that may breach the national security law and that they would have to stop him.

Wong said his team had tried to stop the motorcycle at the junction, but Tong avoided them after making a right turn into Jaffe Road.

Policeman Lo Chung-lai, meanwhile, said he had fired two pepper rounds at the junction as Tong sped past, hoping to stop the defendant. He said neither of the shots hit Tong.

In his initial testimony, Lo said he had fired both shots before Tong made the right turn.

But the defence questioned Lo’s account by playing a video clip, showing that the officer had fired one shot just before Tong made his right turn into Jaffe Road, and then another shot after Tong had sped away.

The policeman then said his initial account “was not detailed enough”.

The defence lawyer also questioned whether or not it is dangerous to fire pepper rounds at a motorbike driver.

The officer said it was not, noting that he had fired the shots when he was close to the defendant. He said he had aimed at Tong’s body, and not his head.

He said if he had fired from further away, the motorbike might have overturned and injured officers at the scene. But firing at a closer distance would mitigate the risk, he said.

Lo was expected to continue with his testimony on Thursday.