The Police Commissioner Stephen Lo has backed down on his categorisation of last Wednesday's violent clashes in Admiralty as a riot, saying most protesters were peaceful.
Lo said he was only referring to violent protests outside Legco where officers were attacked by bricks and metal poles.
"What I meant is the behaviour displayed by some protesters (who) might have committed (a) rioting offence. As such, those others who have participated in the same public order event, but have not engaged in any violent acts need not worry (that they may have committed an offence)," Lo told a news conference on late on Monday.
Lo sidestepped questions about whether he would apologise for calling protesters rioters.
Last week, Lo came under fire after he defended the firing of tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds against protesters on Wednesday, calling the situation in Admiralty a "riot".
Police have been widely criticised after people shared a large number of video clips online showing riot police using batons, pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets and bean-bag rounds against protesters in situations where the officers did not appear to be threatened.
Other footage shows protesters and journalists alike being roughed up or pepper-sprayed for no apparent reason, or officers shouting verbal abuse.
Fifteen people have been arrested for violent offences, with five of those being related to rioting. Another 17 were arrested on lesser charges.