Protester fell as firefighters moved in, inquest told

A police officer has told an inquest that an anti-government protester fell to his death from a shopping mall in June 2019 when firefighters moved in on him from two different directions.

Superintendent Sean Lin, a team leader of the police’s negotiation team, said he had told Marco Leung, 35, that he would be coming closer to him to help him come down from a construction platform on the fourth floor of Pacific Place, and Leung did not object.

But Lin said as he walked up the stairs to approach Leung, he saw around three firefighters were also quickly approaching the protester from two sides of the platform.

All of a sudden, Leung grabbed a vertical bar on some scaffolding and crawled out, the police officer said.

He added that firefighters attempted to grab Leung’s arm, but somehow missed it, and the protester loosened his grip on the bar and fell to the ground below.

Lin said he could not tell whether Leung had started climbing out of the scaffolding after firefighters had begun closing in, or whether it was the other way round.

He noted that Leung had looked at his mobile for half a minute just before he made the sudden move, but he said he couldn’t tell whether Leung had been provoked by something he saw on his phone.

Lin said Leung’s sudden action was out of his expectations, adding that he believed their communication had been moving in a positive direction. Leung had accepted a bottle of water from him, for example.

Lin said this was the first time he had encountered such an abrupt turn of events during his 20 years of negotiation work.

Earlier in Thursday’s hearing, superintendent Nip Hoi-kwan, who had been at the scene to support the rescue operation, said former lawmaker Roy Kwong and a protester, Amy Pat, had approached him saying they wished to speak to Leung.

But the officer rejected their request, as the police negotiation team had already been trying to engage Leung. He said letting the pair speak to him could have complicated the situation.

He also said since Leung had been holding a box cutter, it would be risky to allow Kwong and Pat, who didn’t know the man personally, to approach him.

Kwong is expected to give testimony on Friday.

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