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China’s social media bewildered by man’s ‘mysterious death’

Just one week after the death of Wei Zexi, a Chinese college student who died of synovial sarcoma after he had taken ineffective medical treatment advertised by Baidu, China’s equivalent of Google, China’s online community was once again shivered by the “mysterious death” of a 29-year-old man named Lei Yang in Changping district in the northern suburbs of Beijing on May 7 (Beijing time).

The man, together with five others, was allegedly caught by police at around 8 pm on May 7 in a pedicure salon in a community on the Huoying street in Changping district for whoring, according to a post by @平安昌平, the official Weibo account of the police office of Changping district, on Monday night.

The post also said that on the way back to the station, the man resisted the law enforcement and intended to escape, which led the police to take “necessary constraint measures” against the man. The man suddenly showed sign of “discomfort” during the process of interrogation at the police station, and the police then took him to the local hospital, but he died after a failed rescue effort, according to the post.

The pedicure salon where Lei Yang was arrested. Photo: The Beijing News

However, the claim made by the local police was denied by Lei’s wife who just gave birth to a baby girl on April 24 and came to visit Lei on May 7, with some other relatives. Before he died, Lei has been working at the China Association of Circular Economy after getting a master’s degree from the environment department of Renmin University in 2012, according to Lei also took part in several design works of industrial parks and published articles in renowned environmental magazines including Environmental Protection, Environmental Science, and Environmental Engineering.

According to a written explanation dictated by Lei’s wife, she and the relatives arrived at the Beijing airport at around 23:30 and by that time Lei, who left his home at around 21:00, had already lost contact. At around 1 am on May 8, Lei’s phone was answered by an officer at the police station of Dongxiaokou county of Changping district, telling them to go to the police office.

The police told Lei’s relatives that Lei was suspected of whoring and died of heart attack, and the Changping Hospital of Integrated Chinese And Western Medicine said that he was already dead when he was brought to the hospital at around 22:09 May 7.

At about 4:30 am on May 8, Lei’s relatives saw Lei’s body with congestion spreading on his arms and head at the hospital. The reason given by the police was that Lei resisted “fiercely” on the way back to the station, and his head knocked the floor after he attempted to jump out of the car. But the relatives’ request to take photo of Lei’s body was denied, according to the explanation.

Lei’s family and schoolmates put forward four queries on Lei’s sudden death, and were waiting for the investigation result from the local procuratorate. First, how could Lei possibly die of heart attack as he had been playing football nearly every week, and no one had a heart disease in the family; second, why there were no explicit wounds on the skin if the congestion was caused by the jump from inside the car as the police claimed; third, why the police station didn’t contact the relatives even for two hours after Lei’s alleged death time of 22:09 according to the hospital; and fourth, why all the latest call records, family information on WeChat Moment, and the latest location records in Lei’s phone were deleted.

Lei’s death triggered discussionson China’s social media including Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, with many users calling for the police to unveil the truth behind the key words such as “whoring”, “heart attack”, and “violent law-enforcement” which were used in relation to the case, while some are also questioning the man’s true intention of being at the salon.

“Please show the evidence, and shouldn’t there be a recorder for the whole law enforcement process. Is it merely foot massage or truly whoring? Are there any other witnesses at the scene? Why did the man resist? If Lei just dropped by the pedicure salon, isn’t there a CCTV camera on the street?” said @孙小菇.

“Why didn’t the police contact the family on the way to the hospital, instead of waiting until he died,” said @biubiu豆儿.

“All the facts concerning the case should be gathered - autopsy report, law enforcement record, rescue record at the hospital, and testimony of the staff at the pedicure salon. Credibility should be based on facts,” said @流浪的三毛w.

So far, the reason for Lei’s death is still unclear, and the police office of Changping district had submitted the case to the local procuratorate for further investigation, according to the police station’s Weibo post.

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