LEI YANG CASE UPDATE: Policemen Arrested Over Controversial Death

Beijing Supreme People’s Procuratorate has published an update on the investigation into the Lei Yang case, that had thousands of netizens outraged over suspected police brutality. The autopsy results on Lei Yang’s body were publicly released on June 30. Two policemen involved in Lei Yang’s arrest are suspected of “neglect of duty” and have been placed under arrest.

News has come out following the completed autopsy on Lei Yang (雷洋), the 29-year-old Beijing environmentalist who died shortly after being arrested in May of this year. His death sparked national outrage, with many connecting Lei’s death to police brutality. Netizens feared that anybody could be “the next Lei Yang“, and some already called the case one of the “biggest controversies of 2016”.

According to previous police statements, Lei Yang was arrested by 5-6 plainclothes officers on May 7, 2016, for visiting a brothel (featured image) and died while resisting his arrest. Camera recordings of his arrest were reportedly unavailable after the police phone device that was used for filming the arrest broke down. According to one officer, Lei had “stopped resisting and was very quiet” in the car on the way to the police station. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital within two hours after his arrest.

Lei’s family was not satisfied with police reports on the circumstances that led to Lei’s death. Lei just had a baby two weeks earlier and was on the way to the airport to pick up relatives. According to family members who had seen Lei’s body under police supervision, he was bruised on his head and arms, and also had sustained other injuries.

The Beijing prosecutor’s office publicly released news about the autopsy results in the Lei Yang case on its official Weibo account on June 30. According to the report, the autopsy results revealed Lei Yang’s cause of death to be choking due to “inhaled food content into his respiratory system” (“死者雷洋符合胃内容物吸入呼吸道致窒息死亡”).


They also wrote that the investigation was still ongoing, but that 2 policemen by the names of Xing and Zhou that were involved in Yang Lei’s arrest have now been arrested as they are suspected to be guilty of “neglect of duty” (玩忽职守). Both officers were working at the Beijing local Changping police station.

According to Chinese news site Legal Daily, the lawyer of one of the suspects (Xing) handed over an official complaint to the Beijing prosecutor’s office earlier this week, in which was suggested that the procedures of the forensic center were against the law as the credentials of the concerning evaluation center were called into question. Beijing prosecutors later announced that the autopsy by the forensic center was lawful.

This article will be updated if more information on this case comes out.

– By Manya Koetse & Diandian Guo

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.


About the author: Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

About the author: Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialised in China's cultural memory.

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