HKUST president Wei Shyy vows to condemn police violence if officers are proven to have violated tear gas rules around time his student fell and suffered severe brain injury
A makeshift message board, filled with messages of support, was placed outside the intensive care unit. Colourful origami paper cranes and flowers also dotted the lobby area.
Shyy, who spent two hours visiting Chow in the afternoon, later met hundreds of students at a forum on the university campus in Clear Water Bay.
While many students urged Shyy to condemn “police brutality”, he said he would “condemn violence by all parties in any form”.
The university head also said he had sent a letter to the commissioner of police on Tuesday asking for their internal guidelines and information on the operation of tear gas.
Link Reit, which manages Sheung Tak Car Park in Tseung Kwan O, has released CCTV footage of the moments around the time HKUST student Chow Tsz-lok fell from 3/F to 2/F. Footage also showed firemen arriving on the scene, but did not capture how Chow fell.
Video edited by SCMP— SCMP Hong Kong (@SCMPHongKong)
“If the guidelines say tear gas should not be fired into closed or semi-closed areas, then what you just said is totally agreeable to me. I will join you,” Shyy told his students.
At the forum, chaos erupted when a student believed to be from mainland China pushed a local peer to the ground. The trigger for the clash was unclear but the melee left at least four students injured, with one taken away on a wheelchair.
On Wednesday, Link Reit, which owns the Sheung Tak Car Park where Chow fell from, also released 10 clips of security footage taken at around 11.40pm on Sunday to around 1.40am on Monday.
But the footage did not appear to have captured the moment he fell, as the cameras rotated during their operation. The view was also partly blocked by parked vehicles.
The clash on Sunday in Tseung Kwan O, which extended into the small hours the next day, was sparked by a group of protesters trying to disrupt a police officer’s wedding held in a hotel in the district. It was unclear whether Chow was in the group, why he was at the car park and what exactly caused him to fall.
Questions also remained over whether there was any delay in paramedics reaching Chow, as it took 19 minutes for them to arrive, seven minutes longer than the service pledge of being at a destination within 12 minutes from the time of an emergency call.
A voluntary first aider present at the scene, who gave his name as Hins, said he heard from the radio communications of firefighters helping Chow before the paramedics arrived that an ambulance was blocked by police.
“I heard from the walkie-talkie of firefighters that their ambulance was obstructed by police and couldn’t come over,” he said. “He was taken to hospital by paramedics who were coincidentally passing by.”
Another witness, who claimed to be among the first to find out Chow’s fall, also told a local television station that he heard an ambulance saying in radio communications that it was blocked by police. He also claimed the ambulance assigned to handle Chow’s case later said over the radio that they could not get to the car park.
However, the Fire Services Department issued a statement contradicting the claims. According to its records, it said there were three ambulances dispatched to the area around a similar time, including the one assigned to handle Chow’s case. While a photo circulating online showed an ambulance was blocked by police, a source from the department said it was not the one assigned to help Chow.
The one assigned to help Chow had faced road obstructions twice, by private vehicles, double-decker buses and fire service engines, when it was making its way, the department said.
Hins the first aider also accused police of pointing guns to people who were helping Chow and asking them to leave. But police said their officers had pointed at protesters inside the car park with long guns or batons. They also stressed they did not intervene in any rescue work or disperse anyone providing rescue.
Meanwhile, Link Reit said it had sent the footage to Shyy at his request and released all the 10 clips from six panning CCTV cameras on three floors which were close to the falling spot during the late night period of November 4 because of public concerns. “Footage is untampered except faces of some passers-by are blurred out for privacy reasons,” it said.
The Post reviewed six of the clips, from 12.45pm to 1am, when the fall was believed to have happened, but could not determine how and when exactly Chow fell. One CCTV camera on the second floor closest to where Chow was found lying on the ground showed that at around 1.07am, two firefighters were heading to the spot following a young man in a black T-shirt who was pointing in the direction.
More people appeared at the spot soon after. At around 1.15am, more than 20 riot police officers appeared in front of the camera. They checked the stairway nearby and stopped there for around one minute and left for the direction of Tong Ming Street where tear gas was fired earlier. During their stay, some talked to the firefighters and went close to the spot of the fall.
The cameras on the third floor near where Chow was believed to have fallen from showed that a man in black appeared at the corner a few metres away from the spot and left a few seconds later at around 1.08am. Several people went in and out of the car park, with some seen running. No tear gas smoke could be identified from the clips.
Additional reporting by Christy Leung, Karen Zhang and Kathleen Magramo