A teenaged protester in Hong Kong was shot in the chest by police amid clashes on Tuesday, marking the city’s most violent day in decades.
Video shows the officer pointing a handgun at a group of protesters, sending the group running, and firing with live ammunition when the group had disbursed.
The video then cuts to the protester on the ground in visible distress with blood streaming from his chest.
Hong Kong Police Commissioner Stephen Lo said the action was “reasonable and lawful” and said the officer feared for his life, shooting in self-defense, according to the Associated Press.
“The officer was under attack, his life was threatened. … He made a very quick decision and shot the assailant. I believe it was his best judgment at the time,” Lo said.
Protesters were setting fires and damaging property in rejection of Chinese nationalism on Tuesday as China celebrated its National Day.
Police fired at least five warning shots in Tseun Wan, where the shooting took place, as well as four other areas.
Police also arrested more than 180 protesters, and 25 officers were injured in the clashes.
Hong Kong police issued multiple warnings to the public on Tuesday, urging protesters to cease their activities to put a stop to the clashes.
“Having given repeated warnings in vain, Police officers have deployed tear gas and appropriate force to disperse the protestors,” one message said.
The protesters have been demonstrating in Hong Kong’s streets since June in response to a proposed extradition bill that would’ve allowed those charged with crimes to be extradited to China for prosecution.
Although the bill was suspended after initial demonstrations, the protests have continued for more than two months as frustrated citizens show their rejection of Chinese control. The bill was later suspended, but that did not quell citizens’ ire against communist influence.
“Since June, radical protestors have been repeatedly organising unlawful activities. Their violent acts are spreading and escalating drastically, including the use of fatal violence to attack Police officers,” Hong Kong’s police said in a message on Tuesday, adding blame against protesters for creating “a very dangerous situation.”
“Police reiterate that no violent behavior will be tolerated. Police will continue to take resolute enforcement action so as to safeguard the city’s public safety and bring all lawbreakers to justice,” the message said.
Hong Kong citizens have repeatedly called on the U.S. to intervene in the city’s conflict, and Congress is expected to begin voting on legislation in the coming weeks to impose sanctions on Hong Kong leaders who undermine the city’s independence, according to Reuters.