Tsang Chi-kin, an 18-year-old pupil of Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College, became the first protester to be shot with a live round by police after nearly four months of anti-government demonstrations. He is lucky to be alive and questions remain as to how this all happened.

The teenager was first sent to Princess Margaret Hospital with a serious lung injury, then transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where the bullet was removed. Two medical scans supposedly leaked from one of the hospitals showed bullet fragments lodged in Tsang’s chest. One person said that the bullet had "barely missed the heart”.

At about 2:00 a.m. Wednesday Tsang’s condition was listed as stable after the operation, according to a government press release. Later, Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting quoted medical sources as saying the victim “will survive.” Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam added, “I hope people continue to pray for him.”

Tsang’s troubles are far from over as he was arrested for assaulting a police officer during a skirmish that happened at around 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, in Tsuen Wan, a town built on a bay in the Western New Territories of Hong Kong.

Video footage posted online, plus some verbal accounts, show the following sequence of events:

  • A group of protesters chases a police officer with a long shield into an alleyway where the officer is pinned to the ground and beaten.
  • A second riot policeman rushes forward with his service revolver pointed at the protesters.
  • With his gun drawn, the second policeman clashes with Tsang who swings a metal rod at the officer. It was not confirmed if Tsang made contact, but one police source said that the boy struck the officer’s gun-holding arm with the metal rod.
  • The same police source says that the policeman shouted a verbal warning before opening fire on the protesters.
  • Tsang staggers backward and falls onto the first riot policeman who was pinned to the ground and beaten.
  • Another black-clad protester tries to rescue the wounded protester but is  subdued by a third officer.  

As expected, those who support the pro-democracy movement have rallied behind the young shooting victim. A group of opposition lawmakers issued a joint statement that strongly condemned police for “unnecessarily escalating the use of force and using deadly live ammunition” on an 18-year-old.

The Hong Kong Police Force has defended the police officer’s actions, saying they were heavily outnumbered. Police Senior Superintendent Yolanda Yu Hoi-kwan said, “As an officer felt his life was under serious threat, he fired a round at the assailant to save his own life and his colleagues’ lives.”

Tsang’s remains at the hospital with his family and is consulting with lawyers to plan his defense.