Retired police officer Franklin Chu King-wai has been arrested and charged with assault for allegedly hitting a pedestrian with a baton during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.
A police spokesperson confirmed on Monday evening that a 57-year-old man has been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm. It said the man will appear before the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Friday.
The arrest took place more than two years after the alleged assault took place. A number of videos taken on November 26, 2014 appear to show pedestrians being hit with a baton without prior warning as part of the police operation to disperse crowds that had gathered in Mong Kok.
A police press release read: “Police reiterate that no illegal acts by any police officers shall be tolerated. If any individual police officer is suspected of committing illegal acts, the Police will definitely conduct investigations in a fair and impartial manner.”
Osman Cheng, one of the pedestrians, had been calling on police to follow up on his case. Cheng and other pro-democracy supporters have staged a number of demonstrations outside police stations in protest of the police’s alleged inaction.
Last month, Cheng’s lawyers issued an ultimatum to the government, threatening to pursue private prosecution if it did not press charges against Chu within two months.
In a testimony obtained by Ming Pao in 2015, Chu said he “unintentionally touched” two pedestrians with a baton as he waved it at protesters. He was quoted as saying that he was only using the baton as an “extension” of his arm to “pat on the complainant’s back.”
The offence carries a maximum penalty of three years of imprisonment under the Offences Against The Person Ordinance.
Also on Monday, nine leaders of the Occupy protests were arrested for their roles in the movement. They are facing the common law charge of public nuisance, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.
In another high-profile Occupy assault case, seven police officers were sentenced to two years in prison last month for assaulting activist Ken Tsang. Tsang was also jailed for five weeks for pouring liquid over other police officers on the night when he was assaulted. He is currently serving his time in prison.
Both Tsang and the seven officers were charged on the same day – October 15, 2015.
The Occupy protests erupted in Hong Kong after Beijing decided that a 1,200-member nomination committee – likely stacked with Beijing loyalists – would vet chief executive candidates before a popular vote. Demonstrators occupied major thoroughfares in the city for 79 days.