A Hong Kong police officer has been suspended after he and several colleagues were accused of assaulting a homeless man and smashing his belongings in a Sham Shui Po park.
A police spokesman said on Wednesday the force was highly concerned about an incident in which an officer was alleged to have damaged articles during an anti-crime patrol in Tung Chau Street Park on February 24. He said the officer had been suspended from duty, but made no mention of the others.
Word of the suspension came a day after a street sleeper in his 60s and a pastor, Timothy Lam Kwok-cheung, complained at a press conference that a group of plain-clothes officers had gone to the park – a site frequented by street sleepers – and bullied the homeless on the evening of February 24.
One officer asked his colleagues to check the street sleepers for any offences, the pair said on Tuesday.
The man alleged that the group then smashed his belongings with a hammer while a female officer pinned one of the other street sleepers, who has chronic illnesses, on the ground, grabbed his hair and stepped on his genitals.
According to Lam, an officer was heard saying: “You beggars.”
None of the officers displayed their warrant cards and they left after 20 minutes, Lam added.
No suspicious objects were found.
They allegedly damaged plastic containers, a bag of rice and stools, among other items.
Lam said the officers were not enforcing the law but aimed to insult the homeless. He urged police to apologise and compensate the victims.
He also urged the relevant government departments to stop bullying vulnerable groups and to treat the homeless properly.
A social worker complained that police appeared as many as eight times a day and were just trying to remove the homeless from the site, while the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which runs the park, conducted cleaning operations without prior notice and removed the street sleepers’ belongings.
The police spokesman said any breach of the law or disciplinary offence by officers would not be tolerated. Police would follow up on the case in a fair, just and impartial manner, he said.
They also appealed for anyone with information on the case to contact the Kowloon West regional crime unit at 3661 8257.