By Jessie Pang
HONGKONG – An American lawyer convicted of assaulting a plain-clothes Hong Kong police officer during anti-government protests in 2019 lost his appeal on Tuesday and was taken back to jail to serve the remainder of his sentence.
Samuel Bickett, a former anti-bribery compliance director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, was jailed for four months and two weeks in June last year for assaulting Yu Shu-sang on Dec. 7, 2019. He was released on bail in August after spending more than six weeks in jail.
In 2019, the former British colony faced the longest and biggest pro-democracy protests since its 1997 return to Chinese rule, often involving violent clashes between protesters and police. More than 10,000 people were arrested in relation to the demonstrations, some of them by plain-clothes police.
In videos widely circulated online, Bickett is seen attempting to snatch an extendable baton from Yu’s hands as the officer fell to the ground. When asked by another person using a derogatory term for the police whether he was a policeman, Yu, wearing jeans and a blue jacket, said “no” then “yes”.
“As observed by the court, time and time again, police officers or any public officers who are carrying out their public responsibilities must be protected when in the execution of their duties,” High Court Judge Esther Toh said.
Bickett said in a statement he was sent back to prison for a crime he did not commit and he would appeal again to a higher court.
Bickett has said he was trying to stop Yu from assaulting another person in a train station.
Yu earlier told the court he was using his baton to stop a man from jumping over the turnstile without paying and he did identify himself as a police officer.
Magistrate Arthur Lam in the Eastern Magistrates Court said it was understandable Yu did not immediately answer “yes” to the “disrespectful” question.
Bickett, who has lived in Hong Kong and Taiwan since 2013, was immediately detained.
He told Reuters in November he believed he suffered an injustice.
“I don’t regret stepping in that day, doing the right thing,” Bickett said.