The Taiwan High Court yesterday upheld an earlier ruling to acquit Taipei police officer Chang Ching-yi (張景義) in the 2013 shooting death of a suspect who resisted arrest and led police on a car chase in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) area.
Prosecutors charged Chang with professional negligent manslaughter and breaches of the Act Governing the Use of Police Weapons (警械使用條例) in the death of 30-year-old Li Yu-wei (黎育維) on Aug. 13, 2013.
Chang, 46, was in January acquitted of all charges by the Taipei District Court, but prosecutors appealed the case.
As the suspect drove onto a busy street, ramming concrete barriers and reversing his vehicle, the situation was deemed to be urgent, the High Court judges said in their ruling.
The judges also cited a witness who said that Li ignored Chang’s demand to stop his vehicle before Chang fired two shots from his pistol.
Chang said he aimed at Li’s car’s front tire, but the car kept moving, so he fired a second shot, which went through the windshield and hit Li in the abdomen.
Li was rushed to a hospital where he died from hemorrhagic shock caused by severe bleeding.
“This is belated justice for me,” Chang told reporters after yesterday’s ruling.
“The street was crowded that day. Li refused to stop and tried to run me and other police officers over, then he reversed the car to get away,” Chang said. “It was an urgent situation and many lives were in danger.”
“If I were in the same situation again, I would still have the courage to shoot, because there was no other choice,” he added.
In both trials, Chang maintained that he was not aiming at Li, but at the tire, and should therefore be found not guilty.
The judges agreed with an expert assessment report, which concluded that due to the car’s motion and the angle of the pistol when fired, the bullet ricocheted off the car’s frame, meaning that Chang could not be held liable for where the bullet ended up.
In both rulings, the judges deemed that Chang had conformed to the “reasonable use” stipulation when firing his pistol in an urgent situation and had acted to protect lives.
Prosecutors cannot further appeal the case, unless the verdict is found to have contravened the Constitution, according to the Criminal Speedy Trial Act (刑事妥速審判法).
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