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Hong Kong court rejects US lawyer’s appeal in police assault case – JURIST

Hong Kong’s High Court Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday dismissed the appeal of US corporate lawyer Samuel Bickett, upholding his conviction and jail term for assaulting an off-duty police officer in December 2019.

Bickett’s appeal centered on the lower court’s failure to give sufficient weight to the defense’s video evidence (an annotated version of which was tweeted by Bickett) nor to the contradictory testimony of a respondent on-duty police officer regarding the unlawful use of a police baton.

In addition, Bickett and his lawyers objected to the court’s denial of their request for access to the official version of the Hong Kong police handbook in order to more effectively allow cross-examination of the officer regarding his use of a baton. against Bickett. The trial court ruled that this official version was “not relevant to the trial and also subject to public interest immunity.”

Judge Esther Toh, who dismissed Bickett’s appeal, found that the lower court’s findings were reasonable and within the discretion of the lower court judge. Regarding the denial of access to the official police manual, the judge said:

[T]This day’s event took place during one of the most violent chapters in Hong Kong’s history where violence in the streets was inflicted on ordinary citizens day after day, and police officers, when not were not on duty, if recognized, were also beaten, which caused batons to be handed over to police officers who were off duty in September 2019. . . . All rules and requirements are of course reasonable and should be followed, but it should depend on the circumstances adhering to a particular time and place.

Bickett’s conviction stems from an altercation with Officer Yu Shu-sang. On December 17, 2019, while off duty and in plain clothes on the MTR subway, Yu chased after a fleeing turnstile jumper and allegedly used his baton on the fleeing man’s neck. As this altercation ensued, a stranger onlooker intervened, causing a distraction that allowed the fleeing man to escape.

The intervening viewer repeatedly asked Yu if he was a policeman, which Yu repeatedly denied. Bickett, who was also in the MTR and witnessed this repeated interrogation, attempted to take over from Yu just before Yu changed his answer to “yes”.

Another violent altercation ensued, in which Yu fell on an MTR railing, Bickett punched Yu in the face as Yu hit Bickett with his baton from behind, and Yu and Bickett struggled for control of the baton. Bickett claims he was acting in self-defense and that Yu only claimed he was a police officer after this physical altercation.

ticket tweeted a public statement about the judgment, which included his intention to appeal. Additionally, Bickett said, “I am grateful that the injustices committed against me bring attention to the threats to the rule of law in this city that I love so much.”