An investigation has found that a police officer, Zhang Yan, acted in self-defense after he shot to death a protester resisting a forced-demolition in Panjin, Liaoning Province, who had set himself on fire before rushing at the cop with a sickle. Official accounts are supported by that of a villager who told the Beijing News that the villager, Wang Shujie, poured petrol over himself and lit it before attacking the police.
The investigation found that Wang’s family poured petrol on construction workers there to carry out the forced-demolition, and threatened them with lighters. After the police arrived, the Wang family attacked them with axes and sickles, and threw petrol at them. Police reportedly used pepper spray to try and fight off the protesters, but after Wang Shujie set his clothes on fire and rushed towards the officers, Zhang, himself drenched in petrol, shot him dead. Zhang (pictured) claimed the killing shot was an almost-unconscious action to protect himself.
Witnesses confirmed to the Beijing News that the Wang family became increasingly aggressive and used sickles to attack the police.
Rice field bulldozed
The People’s Daily reports that there was no agreement or court verdict for the land acquisition, which meant that the entire operation was illegal. (Update: However, local officials have shown Xinhua News Agency an agreement between the Wang family and the government, in which the family has agreed with the compensation.)
The demolition site was intended for a new road to an affordable housing project expected to open by the end of this year. Wang Shujie’s family had been opposing the illegal land acquisition. Due to the family’s strong resistance, the local government had lifted the compensation price to 45 RMB ($7.1) per square metre, whereas more obedient villagers were only offered 27 RMB ($4.27) per square metre.
Update: Xinhua quoted local officials as saying the land was not actually owned by farmers, but by a state-owned farm. The government was just taking back the right of use from tenants. The Wang family asked the government to take a 300-square–meter residence away along with their land so that they could relocate themselves to their Shandong hometown. The price demanded by the Wang family was 900,000 yuan ($142,000) while the farm estimated the house was only worth 470,000 yuan ($74,400)
The Wang family was sued by the government, and the court was due to hear the case on October 9th. (Update: the local government told Xinhua that after the agreement with the Wang family was signed, they cancelled the lawsuit on September 5.) On September 19th, the family rice field was bulldozed, destroying all the ripening crops. On September 21st, the family learned that bulldozers were again on their way to the rice field, and rushed to the scene, leading to Wang Shujie’s fatal confrontation with police.