‘I had a feeling’ Tong Ying-kit meant to flee after crashing, says injured policeman

Here’s what happened on Day 4 of the trial:

  • A policeman denied throwing a shield at defendant Tong Ying-kit’s motorcycle.
  • Another officer said he “had a feeling” Tong intended to run away after the crash, and that his colleagues had not beaten the suspect.
  • One of the three officers injured from the collision said he had not yet fully recovered.

A police officer who was injured from colliding with Tong Ying-kit’s motorcycle last year said in court that he “had a feeling” the driver wanted to flee after falling to the ground, contrary to video evidence appearing to show police surrounding Tong.

The officer was one of five members of the Hong Kong Force who testified in the High Court on Wednesday, including the three men injured in the collision. All five were manning the same police checkpoint at the junction of O’Brien and Jaffe roads that eventually stopped and arrested Tong.

Tong, 24, is the first person charged under Hong Kong’s national security law — which was enacted precisely a year ago. He denies charges of terrorism and inciting secession, as well as a fallback charge of dangerous driving under the Road Traffic Ordinance.

On July 1, 2020, Tong allegedly drove into police officers with a motorbike bearing a protest flag. Prosecutors last week argued that the flag’s slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times”, subverted Beijing’s authority and sovereignty over the city. The case, now on its fourth trial day, is being heard before designated national security judges Esther Toh, Anthea Pang and Wilson Chan.

Officer threw his shield and hit Tong in his helmet, defence says.

Continuing his testimony on Wednesday was Detective Constable Ng Tai-shing. Ng told the court that he was holding a small, rectangular arm shield as the vehicle approached.

Aside from its handle, the shield had a strap that would fasten it to the wearer’s arm, but Ng said he was only holding it by the handle in his right hand at the time. The shield was angled at a vertical position pointing outward, because he was using it to gesture at Tong to stop and had no time to strap it in properly, he explained.

“Once I saw the motorcycle coming, I immediately ran towards it, and I had already raised the shield… When the motorcycle was right in front of me, I feared that it might hit me, so I made a block,” Ng said, making a sweeping motion with his right arm at eye level.

Clive Grossman SC, representing Tong, said Ng could have let go of the shield deliberately. “I suggest to you that you threw the shield at the defendant, and you saw it hit the side of his helmet,” he said.

Ng disagreed, only conceding that the shield had “come loose and flown away”. He added that he was very certain his hand never made contact with Tong’s body. Asked if the collision could have been an accident, Ng also disagreed, saying that Tong could have followed officers’ instructions and stopped his vehicle.

Tong wanted to run off despite being surrounded, another officer says.

At the same checkpoint was Constable Lee Ho-ming. Lee testified that Tong’s motorcycle was moving at between 20km/h and 30km/h before accelerating to hit him and two other colleagues. After he was knocked down, he found that his injuries were not very serious, so he helped his colleagues “control” the suspect and carry him away, Lee said.

Grossman argued there was no need to “control” Tong as he was being surrounded by police the moment he fell off his vehicle. “I suggest to you that there was no question of him trying to flee,” the lawyer said. “He couldn’t.”

Lee replied that Tong had the intention to flee. “That’s how I felt. I saw that his arms and legs were moving,” he said.

“I'm sorry to know about your injuries, but you must tell the truth,” Grossman said.

The defence then played footage of the incident and challenged Lee to identify the moment Tong displayed an intent to escape. After watching in silence, Lee said: “Maybe [Tong] did not make an obvious move, but I had such a feeling.”

He also answered, on the basis of the same footage, that police officers had not beaten the suspect with batons after the collision.

“My colleague had the act of swinging the baton, but it seems the baton did not land on him,” Lee said.

To the question of whether he felt upset and angry at being injured, Lee said he did not have much feeling as he was carrying out his duties at the time. The defence had earlier suggested to the court the officers’ testimony might be influenced by “extreme” but “understandable” anger that the judges ought to take into account.

Two other injured officers do not need follow-up checks any more.

Asked about his injuries, Lee told the court that he was still not fully recovered a year on. He felt pain in the left wrist and had difficulty doing simple tasks such as opening a bottle. There was also “numbness and pain” in his left waist and left shoulder, he said.

He had to go to Eastern Hospital once every three months for follow-up treatment, which would include an X-ray scan each time, Lee added.

The court also heard from officers Yeung Chun-yiu and Ip Wai-chuen, who were injured in the July 1 incident as well but no longer required treatment. Yeung felt pain in his side and back, while Ip injured his thumb, left side and leg.

Constable Chu Kwun-keung, the fifth witness of the day, had just started giving testimony when court was adjourned. Chu was responsible for arresting Tong after the crash and would take the stand again on Friday.

By Holmes Chan

Day 1: Hong Kong’s first national security suspect Tong Ying-kit goes on trial
Day 2: Police fired pepper balls at Tong Ying-kit’s speeding motorbike, court hears
Day 3: Role of police arm shield in Tong Ying-kit crash under question in court