China celebrates 70 years of communist rule as Hong Kong seethes
While residents of Hong Kong were protesting Tuesday against the official celebrations of China’s 70th anniversary, amateur videos and photos appeared online that showed the same incident: a protester shot at close range by a police officer. Two ballistics experts who examined the images told The France 24 Observers they show the officer used a live round. It is the first time Hong Kong police are known to have used live ammunition against protesters.
WARNING: this article includes graphic images.
One video shows a young man dressed in black with a pink gas mark using a stick to strike a police officer in riot gear. The officer is holding a handgun in one hand and a shotgun in the other. He discharges the handgun with a visible flash of the muzzle, and the protester falls to the ground.
In a second video, the same demonstrator, identifiable by his clothes, is seen lying on the ground, speaking. “Take me to hospital, my chest hurts. I have to go to hospital…. My name is Tsang Tsz Kin,” he says, according to a translation provided by activists.
Other photos circulating on social media show medical teams giving assistance to the demonstrator. A wound is clearly visible on his upper left chest.
The France 24 Observers team contacted two ballistics experts via Twitter: Nick Waters, a senior investigator for the open-source investigation network Bellingcat, and a respected independent researcher who uses the handle @CalibreObscura on Twitter.
The two experts say the video and photo evidence shows that the officer fired a revolver with a live round containing a bullet, not a blank, at the demonstrator.
According to @CalibreObscura, the weapon seen in the first video appears to be a Smith and Wesson Model 10 revolver, a .38 Special calibre weapon used by police forces around the world.
The dressing that is visible in the photos suggests that the victim was treated for a gunshot wound. “The white flappy thing you can see is a chest seal, which you use for a sucking chest wound,” said Waters, a former infantry officer. “Basically it’s a valve surrounded by a sticky seal. It indicates the lung was pierced by the round.”
A spokeswoman for the Hong Kong police confirmed to the Associated Press that the officer fired a pistol shot that hit the left side of the protester’s chest. She said the protester, 18 years old, was taken to hospital for treatment. She said the officer had feared for his life as protesters surged toward him.