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Man died in police custody: Focus should be on how he died, not on whether he solicited prostitution

By Zou Luxiao (People's Daily Online)    04:46, May 12, 2016

File photo

The case of Lei Yang who was found dead while in police custody is developing into a diverted course. Five days have passed since his death on Saturday, and the media has begun to discuss whether the hand job Lei received at the foot massage place was an act of soliciting prostitution.

According to reports, Lei Yang allegedly walked out of the foot massage place in suburban Beijing’s Changping area at 9:14 pm on Saturday. He was then apprehended by plainclothes in the name of soliciting prostitution. The police claimed that Lei launched a fight twice to try to get away. At 10:05pm, Lei was rushed to hospital. At 10:55pm, Lei was pronounced dead.

On May 11, police released footage to media in which the prostitute gave details about Lei’s activities in the foot massage store. While the public is asking how Lei died in the custody, this very footage of the prostitute was all that the police could provide. It says nothing about the cause of death, nor does it tell anything about the fight that Lei allegedly launched.

Lei Yang lost his life, leaving behind a wife and a baby daughter less than one month old. The justice awaiting him and his family has nothing to do with whether or not he had sought extramarital sex. The justice is neither based on true or false that “hand job does not constitute prostitution” or “soliciting prostitution is a violation of law but not a crime”. The very fact that the police released this footage thus seems ridiculous.

Should justice be the sole concern, the focus should be: What happened between 9:14pm and 10:55pm on May 7, 2016 that led to Lei Yang’s death? What did the police do to him, and what the police did not do to him? The police said that their camera was broken during the fight, and two cameras in the residential block where Lei was caught happened to be “not working these days”. Now that the Changping Procuratorate has started investigation into Lei Yang’s death, we will wait and see.

Lei’s case is similar to that of Freddie Gray. On April 12, 2015, Baltimore Police Department officers in the United States arrested Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American resident of Baltimore, Maryland. Gray sustained injuries to his neck and spine while in transport in a police vehicle and died on April 19. The case triggered the widely-publicized Baltimore protests in 2015. Both cases involved men injured and died during police officers’ apprehension. Yet the difference is that the focus of the U.S. media has never shifted from how Gray died to why Gray was arrested.

In face of justice undone, for us, the least we can do is not to turn it into national revelry of gossip. For the Changping police station, they need to stop acting evasive and give up the hope of diverting public opinion with gimmicks. In the context of the Rule of Law, Lei Yang’s cause of death should be answered by truth that can stand up to the test of laws.


Related Videos:


Man Found Dead in Police Custody: The Police's Version of What Happened


Man Found Dead in Police Custody: The Witness Told the Press What He Saw

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