The Taipei District Court on Friday ruled that the Taipei City Government must pay NT$300,000 in compensation to a man who was beaten by police during a crackdown on the Sunflower movement protests at the Executive Yuan in March and April last year.
Lin Ming-hui (林明慧), a teacher from Taichung, filed the suit alleging excessive use of force in violation of the Act Governing the Use of Police Weapons (警械使用條例).
Lin sought compensation from the Executive Yuan, Taipei City Government, National Police Agency and Taipei City Police Department.
Photo: Chang Wen-chuan, Taipei Times
Lin said he took part in a sit-in protest at the Executive Yuan on March 24 last year.
“The protesters sat on the ground peacefully, and nobody had a weapon. But the riot police used violent tactics and wielded batons, striking people,” he said.
A picture of Lin walking away to receive medical treatment, his face and clothing covered in blood, was among the most prominent photographs featured in media coverage of the protesters’ occupation of the Executive Yuan.
Following Friday’s ruling, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said that his government would not appeal the decision.
Lin said he wants to salute the judge for the decision, as winning the case has symbolic meaning.
“However, the government is still applying the same old authoritarian thinking to the current protest by high-school students against textbook curriculum guideline changes,” he said.
Lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄) said the ruling was to rectify the government’s unlawful actions and could be used for reference in future litigation.
“It was regrettable that the court did not hold former premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) responsible, as he ordered the police to remove the protesters,” Koo said.
The ruling cited the use of excessive police force against protesters, as Lin was holding on to another person next to him when police tried to disperse the crowd by pulling them away one by one.
“Police may use physical force to remove and carry people away, but when using batons, the officers should only have struck at Lin’s hands, and not at his head,” the ruling said.
It added that in Lin’s case, the officers had violated Articles 9 and 10 of the Act Governing the Use of Police Weapons, which state: “The police should avoid using lethal force unless the situation is so imminent that the lives of officers or bystanders are being threatened,” and “after using the police weapons, the police officer must report his/her use to his/her immediate supervisors except for using a baton as a way to give directions.”
Throughout the hearing and investigation, the police force did not take steps to identify the officer who hit Lin. Instead, it gave the captain of the riot police squad two demerits as punishment.
Lin’s lawyer, Lu Chiu-yuan (呂秋遠), said that was not good enough.
“It has been over a year since the incident, but police are still unable to find out the identity of the officer,” he said. “I hope Mayor Ko can help to find the officer responsible, because we must not let taxpayers foot the bill for police violence.”
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