We reported earlier this week on a riot that broke out in Luzhou after a man was beaten to death by traffic police officers. Now it seems that the entire riot may have been one huge misunderstanding, caused by someone irresponsibly or maliciously spreading a rumour that police had killed someone who actually died of natural causes.
Note: just as it’s important to be sceptical about unsourced rumours on Weibo or Twitter, so too is it worth taking official statements by authorities in situations such as these with a large pinch of salt.
Global Times quotes an official at the scene: “The driver died of an acute disease during the law enforcement process when he was told by the traffic police to remove his truck from the middle of a road.”
If this was the only statement contradicting the story as it was being told on social media, it would be tempting to write it off as a cynical attempt to cover-up police brutality (especially in a CCP mouthpiece like the Global Times). However, the South China Morning Post, an independent Hong Kong based newspaper, also cast doubt on the death-by-police story:
[One] witness said the police had not beaten the man. She said she believed he could have died from a heart attack.
“At around 5.30pm, I rushed to the scene, which is around 100 metres from my office, and saw that the victim, who was then surrounded by three traffic policemen, was suffering from some kind of heart attack, before asking someone to help him to get his drugs from his vehicle,” she said.
She said the man, in his 40s, was a fish vendor in the street where she worked.
“I left the scene when the man was still conscious after having swallowed two drug tablets,” she said. “When someone told me the man had died, I went back to the scene at about 6.30pm and found out that was true.”
She said she had not noticed any injuries on the man’s body.
The driver’s death has since been announced to have been caused by a pre-existing condition, not police brutality.
Whether the man died of a pre-existing condition or was beaten to death by police, the fact that citizens were so quick to believe the worst of police and express their anger in such a dramatic fashion demonstrates the massive lack of trust citizens have in the authorities.
[Via: Beijing Cream]
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