A Hong Kong student who fell from a parking garage after police fired tear gas during clashes with anti-government protesters has died, fuelling more outrage against authorities in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
The Hospital Authority said 22-year-old Chow Tsz-Lok died on Friday morning, and the government expressed “great sorrow and regret” over his death, while police said they will propose a public inquest.
Chants of “Hong Kong people, revenge” and “A blood debt must be paid in blood” rang out during multiple memorial events across the city at night as mourners demanded truth and justice over his death.
At the suburban garage where Mr Chow fell, thousands waited in a long line to light candles and place white flowers and paper cranes at the spot where he fell.
Some hugged each other in tears. Others called for a city-wide strike and in some locations, protesters blocked roads and set street fires.
About 1,000 masked protesters had earlier marched through the central business district chanting anti-police slogans. Dozens shouted abuse at several police officers, calling them “murderers”.
Although the cause of his fall has not been determined, it deepened anger against police, who have been accused of heavy-handed tactics including widespread use of tear gas and pepper spray since the protests demanding democratic reforms started in June.
Mr Chow had reportedly been in a coma with a brain injury since he was found early on Monday sprawled in a pool of blood on the second floor of the building. Police believed he fell from an upper floor but it was not captured on security cameras.
Minutes earlier, television footage showed riot police firing tear gas at the building after objects were hurled down at officers in the street when they chased off a mob. Police did not rule out the possibility Mr Chow was fleeing from tear gas but noted officers fired from a distance.
Police official Suzette Foo repeatedly denied claims that officers pushed him down and delayed emergency services. She said police entered the building late on Sunday for a dispersal operation before Mr Chow arrived and a second time just after he was found unconscious.
She said new video showed him wandering alone on the second floor of the car park for more than half an hour before he took the stairs to an upper floor. Minutes later, he was found unconscious.
She pledged the force will be impartial and will recommend a public inquest.
There have been only few fatalities during the unrest, including some reported deaths by suicide and a man who fell to his death while hanging pro-democracy banners on a building.
Last month, two teenagers were injured in separate incidents when police fired guns at them in self-defence but both recovered.
Prominent activist Joshua Wong said Mr Chow’s death made protesters’ demands for an investigation into police conduct even more crucial.