Police officers who stepped outside just before a loan shark’s thug was fatally injured in April 2016 were not negligent in their duties, the people’s procuratorate of Shandong province announced Friday.
The statement, which comes one day before an appeal hearing in the intentional injury case will be held in the province’s high court, said that though the police had failed to effectively control and separate the people at the crime scene, a criminal case will not be filed against them. Later on Friday state broadcaster CCTV reported that two police officers had been dismissed, and that several more had been disciplined.
The officers had been called to a standoff between a loan shark’s hired thugs and a middle-aged woman who owed him money. One of the men had reportedly suggested she take up prostitution to pay back the loans and exposed his genitals. A relative had called the police for help, but after a few minutes, the officers stepped outside. A fight then ensued during which the woman’s son, Yu Huan, fatally wounded one of the loan shark’s thugs.
On Feb. 17, 2017, the Intermediate People’s Court of Liaocheng, a city in eastern China’s Shandong province, gave Yu a life sentence for the crime of “intentional injury.”
The case rose to nationwide prominence in March of this year after an article appeared in the popular Guangzhou-based magazine Southern Weekly. Users of Chinese microblog platform Weibo rallied to Yu’s defense, arguing that he should be shown leniency because he was defending his mother’s honor. Other commentators, including those affiliated with Party newspapers People’s Daily and The Beijing News, condemned the original verdict as being out of touch with public opinion and lacking in empathy and justice.
In 2014, real estate investor Wu Xuezhan began lending money to Yu’s mother, Su Yinxia, at steep interest rates. Su borrowed a total of 1.35 million yuan ($196,000) and was still in debt to Wu after paying back 1.84 million yuan in cash and surrendering a property valued at 700,000 yuan.
The loan shark, Wu, sent a group of thugs to Su’s place of business on April 14, 2016, to settle the matter. A witness told Southern Weekly that after the 10 or so men had trapped mother and son in a room, one of the captors, Du Zhihao, exposed his genitals and told Su she could always become a prostitute to pay back the money she owed.
Police eventually arrived, but security footage showed that they left the room after just four minutes. The officers involved said they had planned to return later and continue their investigation.
After the police left, a scuffle broke about between Yu, the son, and his captors, during which Yu slashed four of the men with a kitchen knife. Among the wounded was Du, who died after driving himself to the hospital.
A week after Yu was sentenced to life in prison, his attorney, Yin Qingli, filed for an appeal on the grounds that his client had acted in self-defense. Yin could not be reached for comment on Friday.
The first hearing of the case’s appeal will be held on Saturday, May 27.
This article has been updated to include news of the police officers’ dismissals, and to clarify that Yu Huan’s case is not a murder case.
Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.
(Header image: Huang Lijian/VCG)