A corporate compliance officer in Hong Kong has been sentenced to 18 weeks in prison there for assaulting a plainclothes police officer, where the compliance officer was actually trying to protect a teen the officer was beating during pro-democracy protests.
The compliance professional in question, Samuel Bickett, is a U.S. citizen who had been working in Hong Kong for years. The incident happened in December 2019 when Bickett was walking through a subway station and saw the officer, subsequently identified as Yu Shu-sang, beating the boy with a baton.
Except Yu wasn’t dressed as a police officer, and repeatedly denied that he was a police officer to a crowd that had gathered around him and Bickett. From Bickett’s perspective, it looked like some random man beating a young democracy protestor, so he intervened to stop the fight.
Bickett was then arrested, and a Hong Kong magistrate sentenced him on Tuesday to four months and two weeks in prison.
This story is all the more outrageous because there is video of the entire scene. One bystander asks Yu several times, “Are you popo?” (slang for police) and Yu says no. For some reason Yu then lunges at Bickett, who wrestles Yu to the ground and takes away his baton. See for yourself:
The man in blue sweater, Bickett Samuel Phillip, is an American & is charged with assault on police officer.
— Adam Young 😷 (@AdamYoungHK) December 9, 2019
Hong Kong authorities, however, ignored that evidence and adopted a different narrative. As reported in the Washington Post:
Magistrate Arthur Lam called Bickett’s acts “a serious threat to public order,” citing multiple injuries suffered by the police officer. As the assault happened in a “crowded area,” Bickett’s actions could have affected others’ emotions and “incited a bigger conflict,” he said.
In his verdict last month, Lam said the officer was not concealing his identity and could not have been expected to respond as the crowd was disrespectfully asking him if he was “popo” — a slang term for the police. Bickett, Lam said, was not acting in self-defense but simply wanted to snatch the baton.
Let’s call this what it is: baloney. Bickett was trying to protect a boy from being beaten, and embarrassed the police officer doing the beating, and so the law enforcement system in Hong Kong punished Bickett because Hong Kong is beholden to the corrupt dictatorship otherwise known as China.
That the judge and police would ignore clear video evidence shows just how corrupt the Chinese government is — and, unfortunately, how total its power over the formerly free city of Hong Kong is, too.
As for Bickett, he had been Asia-Pacific director of anti-corruption compliance at Bank of America since 2019, until leaving that role in May. He also previously worked at Deutsche Bank as an anti-corruption compliance officer for a while in the 2010s, and as a lawyer at various firms.
Bickett tried to do the right thing, and a corrupt regime punished him for it. Here’s hoping that once he’s released he will return to the compliance profession, since he’s a credit to it. Somebody please hire this guy when he’s out.