英文

下一篇

Editorial : Police should review their law enforcement

【明報專訊】A taxi driver was put in a headlock when he was arrested by the police. He was subsequently diagnosed with a cervical vertebra dislocation and unfortunately died a month later. A Coroner's jury returned a 3-2 verdict of "unlawful killing" of the taxi driver. "Unlawful killing" requires a very high standard of proof, which is proof beyond reasonable doubt. In the past it was very rare for a verdict of "unlawful killing" to be returned in a coroner's inquest into law enforcement deaths. Police officers should be prudent when using force to enforce the law, and the force used should be appropriate. This case shows that there is a need to review and improve police training in how to handle a case on the spot and how to respond when faced with resistance. The police must draw lessons from this case to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Although the relationship between the police and the public has improved over the past two years after hitting the bottom during the Occupy movement, it has not been restored to its former state yet. As this case involves police officers using force on an arrested person, it is inevitable that the public is concerned. However, as the coroner reminded the jury to set aside their own prejudices, the public should also maintain an unbiased view with regard to this case and not jump too soon to conclusions that are politically biased, such as "the antagonism between police and citizens".

The law enforcement officers in this case did not know the victim, and it was not a case of murder with intent. Instead of arguing whether the police officer involved had any "bad intention", it is more meaningful to discuss whether there were any flaws in the law enforcement process. From the standpoint of ordinary citizens, the job of police officers is to eliminate crimes and maintain peace, and police officers may have to use force when necessary. However, the use of force must be reasonable and proportionate, and should be stringently controlled. Otherwise it may threaten ordinary citizens instead.

According to police guidelines on law enforcement, when police officers face "strong resistance" during an arrest, they can hit the person under arrest or even use pepper spray. The police officer in this case claimed that they were only thinking of taking the victim into the police vehicle and did not resort to any of these measures. However, judging from the result of what happened, the police officers involved obviously did not employ the best measure by forcibly lifting the victim into the police vehicle. Tough measures can easily lead to scuffles and accidents. When police officers are handling ordinary disputes and quarrels, there is no need to hurry or act recklessly.

When enforcing the law, police officers should refrain from using unnecessary force. Neither should police officers target vulnerable parts of the body when force is used. There is a set of criteria in the police internal guidelines on when and how to use physical force and handcuffs. However, the circumstances on the spot vary greatly. In the end it is the capacity of police officers to handle emergencies and make the right judgement that counts.

The inquest proceedings show that police officers are provided with regular training in how to control suspects and how to transfer suspects safely from one place to another. However, there is no special training in how to escort someone who resists arrest into the police vehicle with a special emphasis on protecting the safety of both the suspect and the police officers. Obviously, this should be improved and reviewed. The jury has made four recommendations, including strengthening police training in how to lift an arrested person into the police vehicle and notifying the family of the suspect immediately after the arrest. The jury has also recommended that police officers should inform medical officers promptly if the arrested person is suspected of being injured and that CCTV systems should be installed in police vehicles. The police should consider the recommendations seriously.

明報社評2018.10.25:車資糾紛釀人命 警方執法須檢討

一名的士司機被捕期間遭警員箍頸,事後證實頸椎移位,一個月後不幸身亡,死因庭陪審團以3:2裁定司機「不合法被殺」。「非法被殺」舉證要求很高,必須達到毫無合理疑點,過去死因庭就執法行動致死舉行聆訊,裁定「非法被殺」案例相當罕見。警員執法使用武力必須恰當慎重,案件顯示警方在臨場應對和「遇抗」訓練方面都有檢討和改善空間,警方必須汲取教訓,避免悲劇重演。

本港警民關係在佔領運動期間跌入谷底,近兩年雖見改善,惟始終未復舊觀。今次案件涉及警員對被捕者使用武力,難免惹人關注,不過正如裁判官提醒陪審團應當摒除個人偏見,社會人士對於這宗案件,亦應該保持平常心,避免太快跳進「警民對立」的政治成見窠臼中。

案中執法人員並不認識事主,看不到事件涉及蓄意殺人。相比起爭論涉案警員是否「立心不良」,思考執法過程是否有缺失,才是更有意義的討論。站在一般市民角度,警員執法除暴安良,必要時可以使用武力,然而必須合理合度,接受嚴格管束,否則有可能反過來威脅良民。

警方執法指引提到,拘捕行動期間若有人「頑強抗拒」,警員可以擊打甚至使用胡椒噴霧。涉案警員供稱,當時他們只是一心想帶事主上警車,並沒採取這些行動,不過從事後結果來看,涉案警員選擇硬抬事主上車,顯然亦非上策。強硬處理容易出現肢體碰撞和意外,警方處理一般糾紛爭執,沒必要心急蠻幹。

警方執法應避免使用不必要武力,也不應針對危險部位。警隊內部守則有列明使用武力和手銬的準則,不過案發現場情况千變萬化,最後還是看警員臨場應變和判斷力。

聆訊內容顯示,警方有定期提供控制疑犯的訓練,亦有訓練警員如何安全將犯人移動至另一地方,然而並沒有就押解反抗者上警車等情况作特定訓練,確保當事人和警員安全。警隊在這方面顯然有改善和檢討的空間。陪審團提出4項建議,包括加強培訓警員搬抬被捕者上警車的技巧、拘捕疑犯後盡快通知家屬、若懷疑疑犯受傷應盡快通知醫護人員,以及在警車安裝閉路電視等,警方都應認真考慮。

■Glossary

on the spot : at the actual place where something is happening

employ sth : to use sth such as a skill, method, etc. for a particular purpose

scuffle : a short and not very violent fight or struggle

上 / 下一篇新聞