Unanswered questions surrounding man’s ‘mysterious death’

While the reasons for the “mysterious death” of Lei Yang, a 29-year-old former graduate of Renmin University, on May 7 night (all times are Beijing time) still remain unclear, Sino-US dig out some details from the scene of the event on Tuesday, which may help to provide a more comprehensive view of the whole issue.

On the one hand, officers from the Dongxiaokou county police station in Changping district of Beijing said that the man was caught for soliciting prostitutes at a foot massage parlor near his residential community in Changping district and died of heart attack, on the other hand, Lei’s family do not believe the claim made by the police, and Chinese netizens are asking questions about several veiled but critical details connected with the man’s death.

Police officers with no identification

In a telephone interview with the Sino-US.com at around 7 am on Wednesday, Lei’s brother Lei Peng said Lei’s hands had been cuffed even when he was brought to the Changping Hospital of Integrated Chinese And Western Medicine, and only when the doctor asked the police to take off the cuff for the sake of rescue did the police unlock the cuff.

At around 4:30 am on May 8 when Lei’s family saw Lei’s body for the first time and found congestions on Lei’s head and arms, they were told by the police that Lei resisted fiercely on the way to the police station and jumped out of the police car. But how Lei was able to open the door of police car with electronic locks while being hand-cuffed remains a mystery.  

In addition, Lei Peng was told by a witness near the scene that there was neither an official police car nor a man in police uniform when his brother was caught by two men who did not carry any police identification marks which could show their real identity.

“That’s why my brother kept shouting for help thinking they were crooks impersonating as police,” Lei Peng said.

The witness also told Lei Peng that Lei was first put into a black car, and then dragged to a white minibus with his voice fading gradually.

However, according to a veteran police officer, it is unlikely for a policeman to neither drive a police car nor have any police marks when on duty, and if so, such conduct can be regarded as irregular.

According to legal procedure, only when the police showed their licenses or at least something that could prove their identities was Lei obliged to cooperate with them, according to a lawyer who is also following the case.

Broken CCTV cameras

As soon as the news about Lei’s death spread across China’s social media, netizens began calling for relevant parties including the police, the street office and the residential service office to reveal the recordings on surveillance and other CCTV cameras which might contain Lei’s movement on May 7 night.

Yet, coincidentally, all related CCTV cameras and law enforcement recording devices were broken.

According to the public information about Changping police station, the station bought a law enforcement recording device which could survive the impact of a 3.3-meter fall on any side of it, which removes the possibility that Lei, with the height of 175cm and being hand-cuffed, broke the police recording device himself.

On May 10, Lei’s father-in-law went to the residential service office of Tianxin Jiayuan community where Lei lived to look for CCTV footage from May 7 night which could show the timing of Lei leaving the community. However, the request was denied by the staff at the office saying the camera was broken that night.

The foot massage parlor where Lei Yang was caught on May 7 Photo: Fu Ming/Sino-US.com

Beaten to death?

While the police station posted the notification on its Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, it also spread information through WeChat, a message sharing platform owned by Tencent. One of its writers called “Xiaojing Hutong” reasoned in an article titled Some Speculations On Lei’s Death, “Are the police out of mind to beat one person to death for no reason? There can only be one truth and that needs to be based on facts.”

Meanwhile, Lei Peng is still not sure whether his brother died as soon as he was dragged on to the white minibus.

Lei’s wife and mother told Sino-US.com that they only saw the upper body of Lei after they were allowed into the mortuary. But the veteran police officer suggested also looking at Lei’s legs because it may show whether Lei overly huddled and squatted under the back seat, which may trigger suffocation and cause death.

Foot massage street

Lei’s wife and mother told Sino-US.com that the police contacted them by Lei’s phone for the first time at around 1:30 am on May 8 and said Lei was caught for soliciting prostitutes at a bath center.

However, on the street where Lei was caught there was no bath center at all, but several foot massage parlors.

Within just a mile on the Longjin Third street where Lei was caught, there are more than 10 foot massage parlors with shiny decoration and ambiguous Chinese names such as “Warm Harbor” and “Phoenix Helps To Wash Dragon’s feet” (Long Zu Feng Xi in Chinese) in which phoenix represents woman while dragon refers to man.

Yet, Lei’s wife and mother still do not believe that Lei, a new father who left his home between 20:30 and 21:00 on May 7 according to Lei’s wife, went to the foot massage parlor for prostitutes when knowing that his wife and relatives would be landing at the Beijing airport two hours later.

(This article is edited and translated by Chunmei.)

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