Hong Kong man dies of pneumonia after police take his trousers as evidence but reject replacement from family

·2-min read
Man’s daughter alleged that his father died because he was not provided adequate clothing in the prison    (EPA)
Man’s daughter alleged that his father died because he was not provided adequate clothing in the prison (EPA)

A man arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs died of pneumonia days after the Hong Kong police took away his trousers as evidence but denied him a replacement, a police watchdog revealed in a report.

The suspect might have died due to “police’s failure to provide adequate clothing to her father during his detention in the police station,” said the Independent Police Complaints Council’s (IPCC) annual report released on Wednesday, citing her daughter.

In the complaint to IPCC, his daughter said he was arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs that were allegedly found in a pocket of his trousers. His trousers were seized as evidence for the investigation and he was given a pair of shorts instead.

The following day, his daughter brought a jacket, a shirt, and a pair of jeans to the station but the police constable only accepted the jacket.

The accused was later charged with the same offence and detained until he was taken to the court. The daughter said that she noticed that her father was not wearing the jacket when she saw him in the courtroom.

After her father was released on bail, he fell ill the same day and was admitted to the hospital. The man died two days later due to pneumonia.

The daughter, in her complaint against the police, alleged that their negligence and failure to pass on the clothing might have caused her father’s death.

An additional count was registered against the police station’s sergeant for replacing the pants with his own shorts to the arrested man. IPCC called it “inappropriate” that the sergeant did not make any effort to provide “equivalent clothing.”

“The allegation was classified as ‘Substantiated,’ as the PC (police constable) had neglected his duty to follow the stipulated procedures to seek advice from the Case Officer before deciding whether to accept COM’s (complainant) request for providing extra clothing to her father,” said IPCC.

A police spokesman on Thursday said the complainant has been notified of the results of the investigation, reported South China Morning Post.

IPCC is a statutory body that observes, monitors and investigates the citizen’s complaints against the Hong Kong police. In its 2020-2021 annual report, a total of 2,311 complaints were received. Out of the total, 702 complaints were fully investigated and 72 complaints were classified under “substantiated” category. About 364 were under “no fault” category while 36 were found “false.”

The IPCC concluded that the case “amply demonstrated the need for specific guidelines” for the police for follow-up actions to be taken after seizure of an arrested person’s essential clothing.

The report added that police have accepted its finding the and agreed to review the case. The police will also make necessary amendments to the current guidelines and procedures.

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