Hong Kong police were seen idly walking in Sham Shui Po before they approached and arrested student leader Keith Fong for suspicion of possessing offensive weapons after he bought laser pointers, security camera footage obtained by FactWire has revealed.
This incident and the labeling of laser pointers as “laser guns” has become the latest point of contention in the city’s ongoing anti-extradition bill protests, which have gone on for more than two months.
The CCTV footage from two shops seen by FactWire shows that five plainclothes police officers walked past street stalls in Apliu Street around 40 minutes before the arrest. They headed towards Fong after he bought the pointers.
Hong Kong police had said in a subsequent press conference that the officers were off-duty and shopping before they ran into the Hong Kong Baptist University student union leader who they said was “acting suspiciously”, adding that they did not know his identity when the arrest was made.
With increasing public distrust towards the police, many suspected the officers were trailing Fong before the arrest.
Fong and the officers appeared at the Apliu Street street stalls multiple times between 6:46pm to 7:17pm, according to a CCTV camera located at a shop at the Apliu Street section between Nam Cheong Street and Pei Ho Street. The camera captured the five officers walking around in groups of two and three and then regrouping later.
Two officers, one in a dark blue shirt and another in a black top, appeared at around 6:46pm, walking from right to left towards Pei Ho Street. (Note: the clip shows that it is around 18:29:42 when officers appear but FactWire has confirmed that the CCTV is about 17 minutes behind the actual time.)
Around two minutes later, the same camera then captured Fong walking from left to right towards Nam Cheong Street. He was looking at products on display at the stalls with a phone in hand.
Around a minute later, three officers, one in a black top and black pants, one in a dark blue shirt and a black bag, and another in a grey top, appeared from the right.
They stopped and looked at products at the stalls. The two other officers then joined them and all five officers walked rightward.
The camera captured the five officers walking the opposite direction towards Pei Ho Street around five minutes later. Fong then appeared shortly, walking in the same direction as the officers.
About 16 minutes later, Fong, with a plastic bag in hand, appeared walking rightwards. Within seconds, an officer appeared, walking towards Fong. Two other officers then appeared and also walked towards Fong.
Two minutes later, Fong reappeared, walking from right to left. The three officers appeared, walking in Fong’s direction. All three appeared to be using their phones.
CCTV footage from another shop located at the Apliu Street section between Pei Ho Street and Kweilin Street showed Fong walking towards Kweilin Street with a white plastic bag at around 7:20pm.
Within seconds, the camera captured an officer speaking on the phone and heading in the direction of Fong. Another officer appeared shortly after, again walking in the same direction. Fong was arrested at around 7:23pm.
FactWire published five of the seven clips it viewed with the permission of one shop owner. The other shop owner refused to let FactWire release the other two videos, fearing retaliation. “We want to do business,” the owner said. “We don’t want to be harassed after the videos go public.”
The police did not know Fong’s background and just happened to run into him, senior superintendent Steve Li of the Police Organized Crime and Triad Bureau said at a press conference on Wednesday.
According to Li, five off-duty officers were buying flashlight cases at Apliu Street before finding a man purchasing ten “laser guns” at a stall on the street.
They arrested Fong on suspicion of possessing offensive weapons after he tried to run away.
Li said officers had been attacked by high energy laser beams “from time to time” during protests, and some “have received medical treatment and are still followed up in the hospitals.”
Fong denied bail and was released at around 6pm on Thursday. The Police Organized Crime and Triad Bureau said it will follow up with further investigation.