In what appears to be the first death of a protester stemming from the aggressive police tactics, a young student has died after sustaining a serious head injury during a fall from the third floor of a car park to the second while police carried out an aggressive dispersion operation to end a protest
According to the SCMP, Chow Tsz-lok, a second year computer science undergraduate student at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology fell from the car park in Tseung Kwan O as police fired off rounds of tear gas on Monday.
After being sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital early on Monday morning, the student had been in a coma for several days as the swelling from a head injury intensified. Two operations undertaken to save his life failed, and he died Friday morning after his condition took a turn for the worse late Thursday. A cause of death wasn't given.
At the time of death, sources said the pressure inside the victim's skull had built up to five times normal levels because of the injuries.
A statement by HKUST released on Friday urged students to "stay calm and exercise restraint during this difficult moment" and avoid "conflicts or even tragedies" - fearful that protesters might tear apart the campus after blaming police for Chow's death. All classes will be cancelled Friday in honor of Chow.
The university also repeated a warning for students to stay away from protests.
Unfortunately, security camera footage released on Wednesday by Link Reit, the owner of the Sheung Tak Estate car park where Chow took his fatal spill, didn't capture his fall, leaving the exact circumstances behind his death a mystery.
The death occurred during the middle of end-of-semester graduation ceremonies for the university. During one graduation ceremony, some masters students wore black masks and held up their palms on stage - a gesture of support for the protest movement's five demands.
HKUST President Wei Shyy shed tears during a ceremony where they briefly honored Chow after his death.
Another student who only gave his last name, Wong, told the SCMP that he was shocked by his fellow student's death and said the graduation ceremonies should be cancelled: "It’s no longer a happy occasion for some graduates."
Even Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam offered her sympathies to Chow and his family, and said the case needed to be investigated.
It's still unclear whether the clashes between police and protesters had anything to do with Chow's death. With no surveillance footage, it's likely to remain a mystery.
Still, protesters are already calling it the first fatality linked to the demonstrations (and the police response). That label looks likely to stick. And demonstrators are already calling for more rallies in retaliation for Chow's death.