Two Unarmed Brothers Killed by Deputy Police Director

January 19, 2010 3:16 am Last Updated: January 22, 2010 2:30 am

The official version of events in the recent case of a high-ranking police officer killing two villagers in Guizhou Province is being hotly disputed by witnesses at the scene.

Deputy Director of the Guizhou Police Department Zhang Lei killed the two brothers Guo Yonghua and Guo Yongzhi, from Yaoshang Village in Guizhou Province, on Jan. 12, when the brothers were shopping in the town of Gongpai.

The authorities claim the two had assaulted the police officer and tried to take his gun, but witnesses have said the incident was just another case of wanton police brutality.

Slain While Kneeling

According to Huaxi Dushi and other media reports, quoting witnesses, the events went something like the following.

Deputy Zhang was seen in plain clothes, pointing at Guo Yonghua with his left hand while grabbing for his gun with his right hand. He said Zhang shouted, “Kneel down, or I will kill you.”

Guo responded saying, “I didn’t break the law, you wouldn’t dare to shoot me.” Then, another policeman, Wang Daosheng, shocked Guo Yonghua to the ground with electric batons. Zhang took out his gun, firing twice at the sky, twice at the ground, and once at Guo Yonghua’s head, killing him instantly.

Guo Yongzhi demanded to know why his brother was shot. Zhang responded by shooting Guo Yongzhi in the waist, wounding him. Guo tried to climb toward a light post, but Zhang walked over and shot him in the back of the head.

According to a witness quoted in the report, right before Zhang shot Guo Yongzhi the first time, someone in the crowd said, “This person can still be saved, let's get him to the hospital.” Zhang pointed the gun at bystanders and said, “I will shoot whoever dares to take him to the hospital.”

Another villager, Chen Xiangrong, who was planning on going home with the two brothers, also had the gun pointed at his chest. “When Zhang had the gun against my chest, I suddenly heard a sound, but nothing happened.” Xiangrong is reported as saying to Huaxi Dushi. “Most likely he ran out of bullets, or I would also have been killed.”

The following evening the Anshu city authorities held a press conference, but gave scant details about the case. They claimed that the police officers were carrying out their normal duties when the two brothers violently attacked them.

This description is denied by witnesses quoted in the Chinese press, and Internet posts by people claiming to be witnesses to the events. They say that the victims did not have any conflict with the police. Comments like “They did not fight! Absolutely no fight! Their hands did not even touch!” were among those quoted.

The news was posted on many Internet forums in China, setting off a flurry of outrage. “A life for a life; execute Zhang Lei” and “Kneel down, or I will kill you” quickly became new buzz-phases.

Skepticism About Government Compensation

Within days, the local government reached an agreement with the victims' family to provide 350,000 yuan (US$50,000) as compensation for each victim. The agreement was signed by the town manager with the Party Secretary as witness.

A person who identified himself as a legal expert wrote that the compensation should come from the police department and not the local government. The writer was puzzled that the local government would provide the compensation.

Other Internet postings complained that taxpayers’ money should not be used for the compensation, and that the police involved should be held personally responsible.

The victims’ family members were outraged when they heard the official statement, and cancelled the funerals until the government conducts an investigation. They also await a formal apology, and vowed to carry the coffins publicly as an appeal for justice, if necessary.

Read the original Chinese article.