Five Beijing police officers are accused for dereliction of duty that has led to the death of a man during an anti-prostitution raid. (Photo : Getty Images)
Beijing prosecutors on Tuesday have recommended the filing of charges against five police officers in connection with the death of a man during a raid at a foot massage parlor earlier in May.
Lei Yang, a 29-year-old environmentalist, died in police custody during a raid at a foot massage parlor suspected as a brothel in Beijing's Changping district in May, leading to intense public outcry and raised suspicions of police brutality and abuse of power.
The Fourth People's Procuratorate of Beijing has completed its investigation of the five suspects for of duty and transferred them to public prosecution departments for review, four of whom were granted bail, the procuratorate posted on its official Sina Weibo account on Tuesday.
Beijing prosecutors pointed to an officer named Xing, who currently serves as the deputy head of the Dongxiaokou police station in Changping, and an auxiliary officer surnamed Zhou for being primarily responsible for the incident.
The prosecutors said Lei, who worked for the China Association of Circular Economy, a government-affiliated environmental organization, died from choking on his own vomit.
However, the police said Lei had a heart attack while being detained and was brought to the hospital where he was declared dead, according to local media reports.
Lei's family also told the state-owned Xinhua News Agency that bruises were found on his arms and head, which the police explained as the result of Lei stumbling after trying to escape from a police car.
Chinese social media is rife with speculation as to why Lei, whose wife gave birth to their first child in April, was doing in a foot massage parlor--which in China is also known as a euphemism for a brothel--and his death has attracted huge attention.
On Wednesday, the state-owned People's Daily newspaper pushed back against allegations of police brutality with a detailed interview with police officers involved in what is described by Chinese authorities as an anti-prostitution raid.
Xing Yongrui, the officer in charge of the case, told the People's Daily that Lei had tried to escape twice and that the police had not used excessive force during the arrest.