A police inspector told an inquest looking into the death of a protester who fell from the Pacific Place shopping mall in 2019 that when he tried to approach the 35-year-old man, he pointed a half-exposed box cutter towards his own chin.
Marco Leung fell to the ground from a fourth floor scaffolding structure on June 15, 2019, as an anti-government protest took place in the area.
Inspector Leung Yu-hei told the court that he had arrived at the construction site at the mall at around 4:30pm on the day in question.
He said he had tried to speak from a distance to the protester, who was wearing a yellow raincoat and a mask at the time, but he didn’t respond. And when he walked closer, Marco Leung pointed a box cutter, with its blade half-exposed, towards his own chin, the officer said.
The inspector said he then stopped moving forward and notified senior colleagues that the police negotiation team had to be called in.
Before the negotiation unit arrived at the scene, the policeman said he attempted to start a conversation with the protester and repeatedly told him to leave the dangerous position he was in, but the man remained silent.
He noted that Marco Leung's yellow raincoat had phrases written on it, including “Carrie Lam kills Hong Kong” and “black cops abuse their powers”.
The policeman said while he was at the scene, a handful of people requested to be allowed into the site to talk to Marco Leung, but he rejected the requests after consulting his colleagues, noting that those asking to be let in did not know the protester and seemed to be a bit emotional.
When the negotiation unit arrived, the officer left the site but remained on standby outside.
He said that at around 9:08pm, he heard a colleague telling Marco Leung not to crawl out of the scaffolding. About 10 minutes later, he learnt that the man had fallen to the ground.
A foreman responsible for overseeing the construction site told the inquest that he arrived there that day at 3:30pm, after learning that someone had entered the site.
The protester was standing still on a construction platform when he got there, the foreman said, adding that he got no response when he yelled out that the man should not be there.
The foreman said he then informed the management of Pacific Place about the incident and asked workers to leave.
He said he had stayed at the site for around five minutes and during that time the protester had not moved and had been “very quiet”.
When asked whether he knew how Marco Leung had managed to enter the site, the foreman said he only heard from some workers afterwards that he had climbed into the construction platform near a planter at the far end of the floor. But he admitted that he just assumed that to be true and didn’t look into the matter himself.
The witness also said there were two entrances to the site on the fourth floor, and they were usually locked, with only people outside the site able to open them.
But later during the hearing, a security consultant for Pacific Place contradicted that account, saying he understood that workers would often leave the doors unlocked while they were working.
Chan Cheong-keng said it would be dangerous to keep the doors locked, as workers could be trapped inside if there was a fire.
The witness said he went to the site at around 3:55pm after learning about the incident from his colleagues. He said he saw Marco Leung standing on a construction platform, holding a half-exposed cutter.
Chan said he had tried to talk to the protester, but he didn’t respond. The Pacific Place employee said he then informed his senior colleagues in the control room about the situation, and they called the police.
The witness said Marco Leung only nodded when he asked him whether a backpack nearby was his.
Chan said he had stayed at the site for 30 minutes until the police came, adding that the protester, who appeared nervous, had not moved during the entire time.
The inquest was set to continue on Thursday, with the court expected to summon more police witnesses.