A Hong Kong police officer was arrested on Friday, just days after he was suspended for allegedly smashing a homeless man’s belongings in a Sham Shui Po park.
The officer was among several officers accused of assaulting the man or damaging his property in Tung Chau Street Park last month.
A police spokesman said the officer had been arrested for criminal damage after an investigation. He was later released on bail and told to report back later this month.
Police on Wednesday said the officer had been suspended from duty and the force was highly concerned about the incident, in which he was alleged to have damaged articles including plastic stools and a bag of rice during an anti-crime patrol in the location. A spokesman made no mention of the other accused officers.
Police conducted the investigation after a homeless man in his sixties and a pastor, Timothy Lam Kwok-cheung, complained at a Tuesday press conference that a group of plain-clothes officers had gone to the park and bullied the homeless there on the evening of February 24.
They said one officer asked his colleagues to check the men sleeping there for any offences.
The street sleeper accused the group of smashing his belongings with a hammer that day, and a female officer pinned one of the other men to the ground, grabbed his hair and stepped on his genitals on a separate occasion.
Lam also said one officer was heard saying: “You beggars.”
He said the officers, who did not display their warrant cards, were not enforcing the law but simply insulting the homeless.
On Friday, Lam told the Post he welcomed the arrest, but reiterated his Tuesday call for a police apology and compensation for the victims.
He said an officer from Sham Shui Po had contacted him on Tuesday after the press conference, telling him that no operation was conducted on February 24.
Later the same day, police told media they had conducted an anti-crime operation in the park and the vicinity. Over the past three months, 570 such operations have been conducted in the park and surrounding vicinity.
“I’ve served the homeless for eight years, this is the most violent case I’ve ever seen … if they have evidence to show the [homeless] are carrying drugs, you could just arrest them and no need to hurt them,” he said.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Hong Kong police suspend officer accused of assaulting homeless man and smashing his belongings with hammer
- Police hunt for pair who posed as plain-clothes officers to stop and search elderly victim in Hong Kong, robbing him of HK$210,000
- Hong Kong police seize three guns and HK$2.4 million in drugs during arrest of Vietnamese man