The Hong Kong police have denied blocking an ambulance from accessing a local university student who suffered serious injuries after falling from a car park.
On Sunday, protesters gathered in Tseung Kwan O following rumours that a police officer was getting married at the Crowne Plaza hotel. At around 1am, police fired tear gas to disperse them.
Chow Tsz-lok, a 22-year-old second-year Hong Kong University of Science and Technology student, fell from the Sheung Tak car park’s third floor onto the second floor. He was unconscious and rushed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Jordan.
There remain different versions over the cause of the incident, including one widely shared claim from a first aider that Chow was fleeing from police tear gas, which the force denies. Police also denied rumours that Chow was fleeing from officers chasing after him.
Link Real Estate Investment Trust, which owns the car park, said it would keep security camera footage of the night. But Link said that – since the cameras move, rather than maintaining a stable angle – they did not capture the moment when the student fell.
Superintendent (Operations) (Crime Kowloon East Regional HQ) Ewing Wu said at a press conference on Tuesday that – according to security camera footage – Chow may have fell between 12:45am and 1:15am on Monday.
Wu said the location that police fired tear gas at least 120 metres from Chow, and reason his fall was still unknown.
The police also denied blocking ambulance access to Chow.
Senior Superintendent (Operations) of Kowloon East Suzette Foo said that firefighters were called at 12:55am to attend to a possible fire at the car park. As they were responding, they called for an ambulance at 1:11am after learning that Chow had been injured in a fall.
Around the same time, police entered the car park from the ground floor and gradually moved upwards, completing their dispersal operation at 1:25am, Foo said. Officer then left.
She said police did not know of the injury until they reached the second floor, and they did not use any weapons during the car park dispersal operation.
Police were accused of pointing guns and batons at people on the scene as Chow was undergoing emergency treatment. Foo said that police officers armed with batons, rifles and shields were dispersing people and had pointed crowd control weapons at protesters. But Foo said police did not block first-aiders and did not force them to leave.
“At the time, firefighters told us that they could handle the incident and did not require our help,” she said.
She added that an ambulance arrived at 1:30am and left at 1:41 am and police did not block it.
“Police did not block any firefighter, first-aider or ambulance from taking the injured away from the scene,” she said. “This is a fact, and was confirmed by the Fire Services Department.”
She also denied a rumour that police had pushed Chow and he fell: “There was absolutely no such thing.”
Asked if the incident was caused by tear gas being fired, Foo said she would not rule out any possibility: “But according to objective facts, when firefighters entered to rescue, there was not a large amount of tear gas inside.”
The student remains in a critical condition this week and has undergone an operation to remove haematoma from his brain. Wei Shyy, president of the university, visited the student on Monday morning at hospital.
RTHK cited an unnamed source as reporting that Chow’s pupil was unresponsive during tests. The source said Chow underwent two operations and removed some brain tissue to reduce pressure, but his situation has not improved.
Chow is on life support and a breathing machine.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she was saddened by the incident. She urged a halt to violence, with protests and unrest continuing into their 22nd week.
“I extend deep sympathy to him and other injured people,” she said.
Asked about the rumour that Chow fell when fleeing tear gas, Lam said she would not draw any conclusions over the incident as it was still under investigation: “The police are highly concerned about the incident,” she said.