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Mar 20, 2017

A police officer in northern China will have to pay for murdering a deputy station chief with his life, a court in northern China has ruled.

The officer, Du Wenjie, killed Bao Zhanquan on July 10, 2016, in front of the station where Bao worked. On March 16, 2017, the intermediate people’s court of Tongliao, a city in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, gave Du the death sentence, a local media outlet reported Friday.

The motive for the murder appears to be gambling-related. Along with a few flagitious friends, Du opened an illegal gambling den in Tongliao on June 18, 2016. The game room did well, with its 29 gambling machines generating over 400,000 yuan ($58,000) in profits in just the first three weeks. However, its success was short-lived: Local police raided and shut down the operation on July 10. That same evening, Du went to a police station in Horqin District to persuade the deputy director, Bao, to reconsider the gambling crackdown. When Bao refused, Du shot him twice in the head in front of the station. Within 10 minutes, Bao was dead.

Despite fleeing the scene in a police car and changing cabs several times to throw off the scent, Du was apprehended in a residential district at 7 a.m. the next morning.

According to the report, regulars at the gaming room confirmed that the place was owned by five people, including Du. The crooked cop, however, had not put up his stake, apparently believing his connections to local law enforcement were a sufficient contribution to the operation. When Du failed in his one responsibility of keeping the police at bay, he took drastic and immediate action.

How Du obtained bullets for his gun remains unclear. According to his police station, also in Horqin District, Du was issued an unloaded firearm on Jan. 8, 2016 — and police officer or not, it is illegal to buy or sell ammunition in China except under highly controlled circumstances.

In another odd turn, while fleeing the scene Du reportedly confessed to a taxi driver that he was responsible for what had happened in front of the police station and asked the driver to turn the murder weapon in to authorities, assuring his unwitting ally: “There aren’t any bullets in here. Relax, I won’t bother you.”

The court did not accept the defense’s argument that in giving the taxi driver his gun, Du was effectively turning himself in. In addition to receiving the death penalty for “intentional murder,” Du was served both a four-year prison term and a 30,000-yuan fine for his role in the gambling operation.

In 2016, a total of 362 police officers died in the line of duty in China, down from 438 the previous year.

Contributions: Lin Qiqing; editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: Jia Ru/Sixth Tone)