A video showing police officers body-slamming a woman who is carrying an infant has riveted and enraged people in China, sparking debate over police powers and use of force.
The brief encounter shows the woman, infant in arms, becoming irate at an officer and attempting to push him several times. The officer then reacts by slamming her into the concrete, sending the young child crashing to the pavement.
The woman continues to struggle as she is pinned to the floor, while bystanders rush in to aid the child who is noticeably distressed.
A later video shows the women being handcuffed and sporting a swollen face and a black eye.
Netizens are divided over the issue, with some condemning the policeman’s violent actions and others blaming the woman for provoking an officer while carrying a child in her arms.
“Simply put, this is the upshot of poor rule of law,” said one user on Weibo. “This troublemaker believed that the police wouldn’t take her on and acted with reckless abandon.”
But others denounced the police officers and their failure to check on the child’s wellbeing after the incident.
“I only want to say that those two policemen did not even bother to check if the child was ok after it fell to the ground,” a person named Isaha commented. “It’s alright for the police to use force, but in this incident, they should have considered the baby.”
Comments also appeared on Twitter, a social media platform that is only available to users who have the software to bypass China’s censorship firewall.
— RebelPepper (@RebelPepperWang) September 1, 2017
This is not the first time heavy-handed police force has sparked controversy in the country. In 2016, the death of the 29-year-old Beijing resident Lei Yang while in police custody sparked online outrage, with netizens connecting the fatality to police brutality.
In 2014, a burly police officer in Taiyuan, a city in northern China, was sentenced to five years in prison after a woman died when he wrestled her to the ground by twisting her head.
By Saturday, the social media storm had gained so much traction that the Shanghai authorities were forced to take action. The city’s Bureau of Public Security announced that the police officer who pushed the woman had been suspended.
“It was wrong of the police officer in the incident to try to stop the unreasonable scuffling by the person involved by using crude law enforcement,” the public security bureau said.