Paramedics found that an arrested man was not breathing and had no pulse when they were called to treat him in a police vehicle on Thursday, according to Hong Kong’s Fire Services Department.
Police earlier said the suspect had died on Friday, about 24 hours after he was arrested on Nathan Road in Kowloon for criminal damage, drug possession and assaulting officers.
While the force said the man was “unwell” and sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei on Thursday, it did not provide details about the suspect’s cause of death.
On Sunday, the fire service said the suspect was found without a pulse when an ambulance arrived at 6.04pm.
“Ambulance officers examined a man inside the police vehicle, first aid was provided after he was found not breathing and had no pulse,” the department said, adding it first received an ambulance request at 5.55pm.
According to a police statement, officers arranged for an ambulance but it did not say if they provided first aid.
The suspect was arrested at around 5pm on Thursday, after officers on patrol on Nathan Road responded to a report about a non-Chinese man “smelling strongly of alcohol” damaging a moving vehicle with a glass bottle and toppling over a nearby motorcycle.
In its statement, the force said the suspect “fiercely resisted” when officers stopped and searched him.
It said officers were helped by passers-by and used “appropriate force” to subdue the man before finding on him four grams of a substance believed to be heroin.
Video footage taken by onlookers shows three officers and a man in casual wear subduing the suspect at one point. It shows the suspect later being taken to a police car.
A medical source, who wished not to be named, questioned if police had performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the suspect before the ambulance arrived.
“The question is, did police monitor the suspect’s breathing and pulse while he was unconscious? Or did they just leave him there while waiting for an ambulance?” the source said, adding that resuscitation earlier could have increased a collapsed person’s chances of survival.
The force said officers had contacted eye witnesses and would arrange for an autopsy to ascertain the suspect’s cause of death.
The force’s Kowloon West regional crime unit is handling the case.
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