China releases video of scuffle before police killing

China releases video of scuffle before police killing

BEIJING - A man shot dead by police in China scuffled with an officer and hit him with a baton before he was killed, video on state media showed Thursday after an outcry over the incident.

The edited footage showing the death of Xu Chunhe, 45, was broadcast as police declared that his shooting was "legitimate" following an internal investigation, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Xu's shooting earlier this month provoked a media outcry over authorities' reluctance to release surveillance footage, and highlighted the increasing arming of Chinese police in the wake of several deadly train station attacks.

The video showed plainclothed staff preventing Xu -- who police said was drunk -- from boarding a train, angering the father of three, who is shown punching an officer in the station's waiting room.

A baton-wielding policeman, named as Li Lebin, is then shown kicking Xu, who uses his elderly mother as a human shield and throws his young daughter onto the ground.

Xu is then shown grabbing the baton from Li and apparently hitting him with it before the officer draws a gun.

The next image broadcast -- a blurry time-stamp suggesting a six-second gap -- showed Xu collapsed on a bench. His mother drags the baton from his grasp and hits him with it as he dies.

Provincial police said that Li had given Xu "multiple warnings" before opening fire.

A lawyer for Xu's family, Xie Yanyi, told AFP that the video did not reveal the full extent of Li's beating of Xu, and that the circumstances immediately before the shooting remained "unclear".

"We still see this as a case of suspected intentional homicide, and will pursue legal means to protect our client's interests," he added.

Xu had a long-running dispute with local officials and Xie said authorities were probably trying to prevent him from travelling to lodge complaints at higher levels.

The practice, known as "interception," is common in China but has met with increasing criticism. Several Chinese media outlets speculated that police had used excessive force against Xu.

Regular police in major Chinese cities began patrolling with guns for the first time last year in response to a deadly mass knifing blamed on separatists from the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

But incidents of police shooting innocent people have raised concerns over the policy.

A drunken officer shot dead a pregnant woman and injured her husband in 2013 after being told there was no "milk tea" in her restaurant. The officer was sentenced to death and executed last year.

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