SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Shanghai’s police department has punished an officer who shoved a woman and the toddler she was holding to the ground in an incident captured on video, sparking a torrent of online criticism.
It follows another incident when police in northern China detained a man for complaining about the food at a hospital, which drew widespread online condemnation. The detention was later ruled inappropriate and several officers were punished, state media reported.
The latest fracas happened on Friday when a Shanghai police officer surnamed Zhu issued a ticket for illegal parking to a woman called Zhang, an online statement from the police said on Saturday.
The police statement said Zhang argued with Zhu, shoved and obstructed him. She ignored warnings that she was impeding his work, it said.
The officer then swiftly knocked Zhang - and the child she was holding - to the street, an “overreaction” in which he “did not take into account the safety of the child”, it said. They suffered minor injuries.
The police said Zhu was given a serious warning about his conduct, a punishment the Shanghai Daily newspaper said meant he can not be promoted or receive a pay rise for 18 months.
Comments online widely condemned the Shanghai police officer’s actions, but many also laid some blame on the woman.
“The way the law was implemented was wrong, so it needed to be dealt with. That woman’s violent opposition to the law should be seen as an illegal assault on that cop and should also be dealt with,” one person posted on a microblog.
Another said: “I feel sorry for the child, but I don’t feel sorry for the woman.”
The Shanghai police statement said it would continue to train officers in “civilised law enforcement”.
Rights groups have criticised the government and its multiple law enforcement organs of abusing power, trampling on human rights and being unresponsive to criticism.
At the street level, however, police are often at the receiving end of public condemnation and can be more eager to repair damage to their image and reputation.
In December, two Beijing police officers were punished following the death of an environmentalist in custody earlier in the year in a case that had sparked public disquiet about China’s law enforcement methods.
Reporting by John Ruwitch