Sunday, July 31, 2011

Killer cop stirs debate

Police Shooting Video Stirs Debate in China

AOL News

TAIPEI, Taiwan (July 14) -- A video of a plainclothes policewoman shooting dead a hostage-taker in Guangzhou has sparked sharp debate among the Chinese about how far police should go in dealing with higher crime rates.

Some are disturbed that the cop shot the hostage-taker four times, killing him, even though he appeared to have been taken out of action by the first shot and was armed only with a pair of scissors.

But others are celebrating her as a hero.

The incident highlights the ambivalence in China toward widespread, Dirty Harry-style police methods that, while at times effectively ruthless against wrongdoers, often show scant concern for human rights and sometimes compound the bloodshed.

The drama was broadcast live on Chinese TV, with the action beginning at around the 5:00 mark in the clip below.

The incident started around 8 p.m. July 6, after a botched robbery by an assailant wielding a pair of scissors, according to a report at translated at Chinasmack.

The perp stabbed his robbery victim with the scissors when he resisted, then took a young woman hostage and made his standoff on a public sidewalk just in front of a bank's ATM alcove. Cops and snipers moved in, and the standoff dragged on as the robber clutched the bleeding hostage in a headlock.

Around 9:30 p.m., a plainclothes policewoman wearing a white pantsuit and elegant scarf approached close to the hostage. She put the robber off-guard by tossing him a bottle of cola, according to Tianxue. Then she reached under her blouse and retrieved a handgun.

Seconds later, as the perp reached down to get the bottle, she charged and fired. The robber and his hostage fell backward into the ATM alcove out of view of news cameras, and it was unclear whether he was hit. The plainclothes cop is then seen in videos moving into the alcove and shooting three more times. The hostage was quickly taken away to safety, while the perp died at the scene.

Video shows the daring plainclothes officer smiling and laughing in response to a reporter who told her, "Big sister, you're so impressive," minutes after the shooting.

In a commentary on, one commentator wrote: "The story of the brave policewoman was everywhere in the media today. I have doubts. What I think is that one shot already did the job. If she wanted to be on the safe side, after one shot, shouldn't she have run forward and kicked away the robber's weapon?"

Another person posting to Tianya wrote, according to a translation at EastSouthWestNorth, "If it was possible to arrest the suspect without killing him, then he should be kept alive. His crime does not deserve death. Even if he deserves to die, it should be decided by the judiciary. The present action shows utter disregard for human life."

Such posts led to angry reactions from other netizens, who had little sympathy for the robber and applauded the policewoman. "Hostage-takers are utterly evil, and reason demands that they be shot dead," wrote one, according to Chinasmack. "Hostage-takers are not bad people? Are you the robber's partner in crime?"

But others criticized the cop for being able to laugh just minutes after shooting someone dead. "No matter what, killing someone, especially if it was the first time killing someone, and then still being able to laugh afterward ...," wrote one. "This is China, everything is possible, nothing makes sense."

"Very stimulating, very realistic, much more enjoyable than cops-and-robber films," another chipped in. "Stop arguing, go to bed and wait to watch the next killing show."

The Tianxue report said that until killing the man, the 40-something policewoman, nicknamed "Ah Xiu," had only fired her weapon at the shooting range in the course of 27 years of service.

But she had extensive experience dealing with hostage situations, the report said, and was nicknamed the "female Sherlock Holmes" by her squadron for her skills in evaluating crime scenes. She comes from a police family, the report said.

In an interview posted with the article, Ah Xiu said she seized an opportunity to move on the hostage-taker because she was the closest cop and the one he was least "on guard" against. She said the situation was "hanging by a thread" and the cops had no choice but to move in. "If we didn't use force, there was no way to guarantee the hostage's safety," she said, according to the Tianxue report.

China executes by far the most people of any nation, according to Amnesty International, with more than 1,000 put to death in 2009, compared to some 388 in Iran and 52 in the U.S. Other human rights groups have higher estimates; the exact number is a state secret. Just last week, China executed the top justice official of crime-plagued Chongqing, who had also doubled as the metropolis' top mob boss, according to reports.

Crime jumped in China in 2009, according to a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and the Beijing Times said it was the first such spike in a decade. Guangzhou in particular has seen a rise in brazen robberies in recent years, amid a shortage of beat cops on the streets, according to another report.

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