Asia Politics

Hong Kong protester shot by police charged with rioting and assaulting an officer

Key Points
  • The teenager who was the first victim of police gunfire in Hong Kong's months-long pro-democracy protests is being charged with attacking police and rioting, police said Thursday.
  • The officer fired as 18-year-old Tsang Chi-kin struck him with a metal rod Tuesday. The government has said Tsang's condition was stable after surgery.
  • It is unclear if Tsang will appear in court, as the charges can be made in his absence. Rioting carries a possible penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
Hong Kong police use pepper-spray as a fight breaks out between pro-democracy protesters who were carrying a mock coffin and another man early morning in the Wanchai district in Hong Kong on October 1, 2019, as intense protests were expected on the 70th anniversary of communist China's founding.
Nicolas Asfouri | AFP | Getty Images

The teenager who was the first victim of police gunfire in Hong Kong's months-long pro-democracy protests is being charged with attacking police and rioting, police said Thursday.

The shooting occurring during widespread violence across the semi-autonomous Chinese territory that marred China's National Day celebrations and has deepened anger against police, who have been accused of being heavy-handed against protesters.

The officer fired as 18-year-old Tsang Chi-kin struck him with a metal rod Tuesday. The government has said Tsang's condition was stable after surgery.

A police statement said the case against Tsang will be heard by a court Thursday afternoon. He will be among seven people charged with rioting and faces two additional counts of attacking police, the statement said.

It is unclear if Tsang will appear in court, as the charges can be made in his absence. Rioting carries a possible penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Thousands of people rallied Wednesday to demand police accountability for the shooting, with many saying the use of lethal weaponry was unjustified.

Pockets of black-clad youths vented their anger late Wednesday night, lobbing gas bombs at police quarters, vandalizing subway stations and blocking traffic in several districts. Police responded with tear gas in some areas.

More than 1,000 students marched Thursday at the Chinese University in a continuing show of support for Tsang and vowing to keep up their fight for more democratic freedoms. Many students felt that firing at Tsang's chest, close to his heart, was an attempt to kill him.

But police defended the shooting as "reasonable and lawful" as the officer had feared for his life and that of his colleagues.

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Key Points
  • On Tuesday, a 18-year-old Hong Kong protester was shot by a live bullet, amid violent brawls between the police and demonstrators on China's National Day.
  • While the shooting has further galvanized anti-government protesters against the police force, authorities maintain that the officer fired his weapon with the intention to stop, not kill.
  • "I don't see the social situation being easily resolved, and I don't see it as getting better. So my forecast is pretty gloomy," says David Roche, founder and strategist at research firm Independent Strategy.