Police officers charged over death of suspect under restraint

Five Taoyuan City police officers have been charged on suspicion of negligent homicide after a man died while being suppressed on the ground following an attack on two police officers in 2019.

On August 20, 2019, two police officers were dispatched to a restaurant on Guangming Road in Luzhu District following reports of a dispute threatening to turn violent at around 10:30 pm. The two officers, named Lu and Zhong, were confronted by a 37-year-old man named You (pronounced “Yo”) who was armed with a folding pruning saw. You appeared very drunk, and had threatened other diners before going out onto the road brandishing the 30-centimeter-long blade.

folding pruning saw
Folding pruning saw wielded by suspect before his arrest.
suspect brandishing pruning saw
Suspect brandishing pruning saw.

The officers convinced You to drop the saw, but You then attacked them with his fists. Three other officers arrived as backup, and the officers pushed You to the ground to restrain and handcuff him.

According to the prosecution’s investigation, which included footage from police bodycam, the five police officers put their knees on You’s shoulders and limbs while one officer, named Chen handcuffed the suspect. You and his girlfriend were both heard complaining that the officers were pushing too hard. The request for the police officers to reduce pressure on You was heard three times. However, the officers did not reduce pressure, and You lost consciousness.

The police officers called an ambulance, but You had lost vital signs by the time paramedics arrived. Paramedics performed CPR and rushed You to Taoyuan City Minsheng Hospital for emergency treatment. However, at 7:00 pm, August 22, You was declared dead.

The police officers under interrogation denied that You had verbally expressed his discomfort, and claimed that they did not continue to suppress him after he was handcuffed.

The prosecution determined that according to the police crime investigation manual, police may use coercive force in making an arrest, but no more than necessary. While police were arresting You, You was seen moaning and vomiting. The prosecution believed that the negligence of the police officers had a causal relationship with You’s death, and therefore the five police officers were indicted on suspicion of negligent homicide.

The Luzhu Police Precinct issued a statement today, February 13, defending the officers. The statement said that the officers had made the arrest in accordance with standard procedures, and had not used excessive force. The precinct respects but regrets the prosecution’s decision. The municipal police and Luzhu Police Precinct will do their best to provide legal assistance to the officers.

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