After defending the shooting of a 18-year-old protestor as “lawful and reasonable,” Hong Kong police charged the student with assault and rioting Thursday. Tsang Chi-kin, who remains in the hospital after emergency surgery, was shot Tuesday during protests that coincided with the 70th anniversary of Communist rule in China.
Police state that the officer who shot Chi-kin feared for his life and acted justly in self-defense.
The shooting was the first by police, which stems from a loosening of internal police guidelines on lethal force just a day before the incident, according to reports from the Hong Kong Free Press.
The “Force Procedures Manual” under the Police General Orders (PGO) was amended late on Sept. 30 to omit a clause requiring “intent” in the use of deadly force, and also expanded the range of permitted weapons for officers to use in dealing with rioters.
Protests escalated in response to the shooting, as crowds continued to demonstrate Wednesday, setting fires, blocking roads, vandalizing storefronts, and damaging metro stations while police fired tear gas in efforts to disperse them.
“I’m out tonight for a simple reason. You don’t shoot a teenager at point-blank range. These protests will continue and we won’t give up,” a protestor told Al Jazeera.
The European Union said in a statement it was deeply troubled by the uptick in violence, and urged that the only way forward was through “restraint, de-escalation and dialogue.”