The body of a motorcyclist whose death set off an overnight attack on a police facility in southern China has been sent to the city mortuary, after his family agreed on a procedure for investigation and compensation.
The traffic police station in Shiyan subdistrict in Bao'an District was besieged by more than 400 local residents from Friday afternoon to early Saturday morning. Their attack followed the death of Li Guochao, who died when he struck a lamppost after trying to break through a checkpoint set up to catch vehicles in illegal business operation.
Li, 31, a native of Wuhua County in Guangdong Province, moved to work in Shenzhen more than 10 years ago. He left a widow and two sons.
Some of Li's relatives carried his body to the police station, where they smashed things and set off fireworks. They demanded government compensation of 600,000 yuan (87,890 U.S. dollars) for Li's death.
Officials with the district government promised an advance of 200,000 yuan but said the final compensation deal had to await autopsy results. The officials promised the family that their consent would be obtained before such an autopsy.
According to a preliminary investigation, Li was driving an unlicensed motorcycle with a passenger on the back when he was stopped for a check on Baoshi East Road on Friday morning.
The passenger dismounted, after which Li sped past the checkpoint. A check station worker surnamed Lai from the Shiyan subdistrict office crossed the guardrail in the middle of the road and tried to block Li, who ignored him.
Lai then apparently hurled his intercom phone at Li, who lost control of his motorcycle, crashed into a lamppost and sustained serious injuries. Lai is under police detention.
Other staff at the office called police and rushed Li to a hospital, but he died during treatment at about 12:30 p.m., according to the police.
Police officials have stated that there were no police officers at the checkpoint at the time of the incident. The nearest officer was a traffic policeman on duty 300 meters away.
However, Li's elder brother, Li Guojun, denied that the deceased had been earning his living by running an unlicensed motorcycle and insisted that his brother had been a construction contractor.
According to Li Guojun, he rushed to the hospital after receiving a phone call from another younger brother at about 10 a.m. Friday.
"My family called police and the local community office for help many times starting at about 9:30 a.m., but no one came until just after noon," Li told Xinhua.
"We are very angry because neither a single police nor official came to see what happened to my brother during the three hours after he was hospitalized," he said.
Li's family also believed that the checkpoint had been organized by the Shiyan traffic police detachment. They brought more than 30 people to the police detachment at about 1 p.m. and blocked the gate.
By 5 p.m., the crowd at the station had grown to 400, with an estimated 2,000 others looking on. People threw stones and set a police car alight.
Li's family denied involvement with the violence.
"We know it was illegal, but we have nothing to do with the violence. We stayed with my brother's body inside," said Li Guojun.
Officials of Bao'an District and the city government were summoned to deal with the situation. The public security bureau said that throughout, the police had shown restraint. The bureau said the crowd had dispersed by 2 a.m. Saturday.
(Xinhua News Agency November 8, 2008)