Hong Kong police officers arrested over video of assault on man in hospital

Two Hong Kong police officers were arrested Tuesday in connection to a video from June which showed them hitting a 62-year-old man as he was strapped to a gurney in a hospital, The New York Times reported.

The pro-democracy lawmaker who released the footage, Lam Cheuk-ting, said while the man in question had no link to the protests across Hong Kong, the video was evidence of aggressive behavior from police.

“These few months, so many protesters have been arrested by the police,” Lam said at a news conference on Tuesday, next to two of the man’s sons, per the Times.

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“Among them, how many must have been subjected to similar or even more severe abuse? Any sensible person would raise this question.”

Police spokesman John Tse said in a later press conference that the officers had been arrested on suspicion of assault.

“We absolutely do not tolerate it if officers break the law while knowing the law,” he said, per the Times.

The security camera footage from North District Hospital shows the two officers hitting the old man for more than 20 minutes in the genitals, stomach and face.

Lam said the man had been accused of attacking a police officer while drunk.

The incident is particularly significant because of the heightened tensions between police and protesters who have flooded the streets, and buildings, of Hong Kong for months seeking democratic reform.

Protests began over a proposed bill that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to China, a proposition which amplified fears of mainland China's broadening influence in the semi-autonomous city.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended the controversial bill in June, but that was not enough to quell protests.

Clashes between protesters and police escalated last week when pro-democracy activists filled Hong Kong's airport.

The protests began peacefully, but police reportedly fired tear gas inside a subway station and charged at protesters on an escalator in another station, expanding the protest and ultimately shutting down the airport for two days.

Several international watchdog groups, like the United Nations human rights office, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have accused Hong Kong police of using excessive force and failing to follow safety standards for the use of weapons like tear gas and beanbag rounds.