Hong Kong coroner reveals emergence of ‘very important’ new CCTV footage at inquest into student’s death following car park fall

Brian Wong
·3-min read

New security footage which could play a “very crucial” role at an inquest into the death of a university student who fell near an anti-government protest last year was discovered on Thursday, the coroner has revealed.

The inquest also heard a doctor suggesting that Alex Chow Tsz-lok might have been attacked before he fell four metres inside a Tseung Kwan O multi-storey car park.

Student who suffered fatal injuries in car park fall ‘unlikely to have lost balance’

The 22-year-old student at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was believed to have fallen from the third floor of Sheung Tak Estate car park in the small hours of November 4, 2019, when police officers were dispersing protesters at a nearby demonstration by firing tear gas rounds and other anti-riot ammunition. He died in hospital four days later.

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It remains unclear how Chow fell, as nobody witnessed it happening, and no security cameras were able to fully capture the student’s movements inside the building.

In previous proceedings, lawyers for Chow’s family suggested that surveillance footage at the adjacent housing estate, Kwong Ming Court, could provide clues to the investigation, but a police detective tasked with reviewing security footage said he found nothing of use there.

On Thursday, Coroner Ko Wai-hung said he had discovered a CCTV clip at the residential estate which could potentially impact the probe’s direction and the evidence to be given by forensic experts in future proceedings.

He stopped short of detailing what was in the clip, saying he needed to first review all security footage from the housing estate and ensure the police investigation was complete before the court inquiry continued.

“At this stage, I can only tell the jury, [Chow’s] family and lawyers, that the footage is very important. Extremely important,” Ko said, before adjourning the hearing to Friday.

Alex Chow was a student at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Photo: Handout
Alex Chow was a student at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Photo: Handout

Investigators believed Chow might have fallen at about 1.01am, five minutes before he was discovered by firefighters who were called to the car park in a false alarm. They concluded that nobody but Chow was on the building’s third floor when he fell.

The student was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital at about 2am. He had extensive fractures to the skull and pelvis, as well as bruises and swelling over the right parts of his body, and a collapsed right lung.

Dr Ray Leung Tsz-hang, of the hospital’s emergency department, said the injuries were likely caused by a collision of great force, such as falling from height.

He said he found no evidence in his preliminary diagnosis to suggest Chow had been hit by bullets, or influenced by tear gas before he was injured.

Dr Ray Leung. Photo: Brian Wong
Dr Ray Leung. Photo: Brian Wong

Leung pointed out that Chow did not suffer fractures to his arms, suggesting he might have been unable to perform the reflex action of extending his arms for protection when falling.

“Chances are that [Chow] might have already lost consciousness before he fell,” Leung told the jury on Thursday.

He added that it was possible the student might have been hit in the head by hard objects before the fall.

Leung acknowledged, however, that he was unable to pinpoint the cause of Chow’s head injuries.

More medical evidence will be heard in future sittings of the court from doctors performing surgery on Chow and pathologists who conducted the autopsy.

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