Relatives of a man shot dead by police in China say he was murdered after resisting a beating from officers, a lawyer said after media uproar over his death.
Xu Chunhe, 54, was killed in the northern city of Qingan earlier this month, highlighting more widespread arming of Chinese police in the wake of several train station attacks, according to AFP.
Police prevented Xu — who had been in a long term dispute with local officials over benefit payments — from boarding a train before beating him with batons and shooting him, family lawyer Xie Yanyi said.
“The mistake was completely on the police’s side… it’s a suspected case of intentional homicide,” Xie said, adding: “We have a responsibility to pursue criminal prosecution”.
Xu had previously attempted to seek higher-level intervention in his dispute, he added.
Local officials in China often employ staff known as “interceptors” to forcibly prevent people from travelling to lodge complaints with more senior authorities.
The practice — often carried out without any legal basis — has come in for increasing criticism, and several Chinese media outlets speculated that police had used excessive force against Xu.
According to the official news agency Xinhua, authorities said the dead man had assaulted police, trying to grab an officer’s gun and truncheon, and posed an obvious threat to public security.
But in an unusually outspoken commentary, Xinhua called on local authorities to release video footage of Xu’s death.
Xie said that police had detained Xu in the train station waiting room, tying him to a railing before beating him. Xu was shot after “resisting”, he cited witnesses as saying.
Police sent Xu’s mother to a nursing home following the shooting as a “kind of soft arrest to prevent her from contacting the outside world”, Xie added.
The provincial railway police in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang, declined to comment to AFP.
Regular police in major Chinese cities began patrolling with guns for the first time last year in response to a deadly mass knifing blamed on separatists from the northwestern region of Xinjiang.