Three French police officers involved in Sunday’s shooting of a Chinese man at his own home, which sparked violent protests in the streets of Paris, have been suspended pending further investigation. Meanwhile, the man’s family is still trying to come to grips with his death.
Police arrived at 57-year-old Liu Shaoyao’s flat on Sunday night after receiving a call from a neighbor who said that Liu had complained to him about noise while carrying a pair of scissors in his hand. Liu’s children said that police did not give sufficient warning before breaking down their apartment door and opening fire. Police said that Liu, a father of five, had injured an officer with a pair of scissors and another officer had shot him in self-defense. However, his daughter told the media that her father had only been holding scissors because he had been cutting fish.
My father drank some alcohol and spoke loudly at night, and some neighbor called police. The policemen knocked on the door, but my father was not willing to open it. And my father was preparing fish for cooking, so he had scissors in his hand. Then the policemen broke down the door, entered our home and shot my father. There was no time for my father to attack any of them. This was witnessed by my two sisters.
On Monday night over 100 members of the Chinese community of Paris began protesting outside of a police headquarters in the city’s Chinatown district. The protest quickly turned violent with some protesters throwing projectiles and setting vehicles on fire outside the station. Officers used batons and tear gas to disperse the protesters, injuring one man of Chinese descent. Three officers were also injured in the clashes. Police later arrested 35 people over the riots.
A smaller group of protesters returned on Tuesday night, chanting “murderers” and “injustice” outside of the station. Ten more people were arrested for throwing projectiles at police.
Earlier that day, China’s foreign ministry had summoned a French diplomat to explain what had taken place. Beijing later filed an official complaint to France as outrage over the shooting spread across the Chinese internet with netizens asking for justice for their fellow countryman.
Paris police chief Michael Cadot announced that 26 of the demonstrators have already been released, adding that three officers involved in the shooting had also been suspended while police investigate the incident. On Tuesday afternoon, police and government officials met with Chinese community leaders to brief them on the matter and discuss possible ways to calm tensions.
At separate press conferences, both French officials and Liu’s family have called for calm as the investigation is carried out. However, Liu’s eldest daughter tearfully admitted that she still has no idea why police shot her dad:
Our life was turned upside down on that night, and we can’t go back to normal life anymore. We still don’t know why the policemen had to kill my father. In our eyes, our father loved us very much and he was so loving. He cooked for us, tidied our rooms, but now we can never see him again.
She said that after the shooting she had confronted the three policemen, but they didn’t speak with her or reveal their identities. She and three of her siblings were then kept in the apartment for two hours for their “protection,” but were kept away from their father’s body.
Calvin Job, a lawyer for the family, dismissed media reports suggesting that Liu was alcoholic or undergoing psychiatric treatment. Liu had been arrested in 2012 for throwing a TV set out of a window, angry with his television-addicted children, but Job said he was soon released because police found he was just “a normal man with a temper,” not someone with psychiatric problems.
The family’s lawyers said that they will file lawsuits after the investigation is completed. “Liu has no judicial record and no violent history, so it confused us that the policemen’s behavior in the incident,” said laywer François Ormillien. “They were not dealing with a violent habitual offender by just breaking down the door and firing a shot.”
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