Minitrue: Beijing Man Dies in Police Custody

The following instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

Regarding the incident of a man from the Changping district of who solicited a prostitute, resisted law enforcement, and suddenly died, no website may republish information from sources that violate regulations. Related coverage is to use news from authoritative departments as the standard. Make sure to find and delete negative and harmful commentary. (May 10, 2016) [Chinese]

’s death while in police custody has sparked outrage online. His family say Lei left to pick up a relative from the airport between 8:30 and 9 p.m. on Saturday evening. At 10:09 p.m. he was admitted to the hospital. A doctor told CCTV that Lei was “dead on arrival.” The police have given a very different account of Lei’s whereabouts that night, as Jonathan Kaiman reports for the Los Angeles Times:

Lei’s university classmate, posting anonymously, said he or she spoke with Lei’s family after his death, and said Lei had lost contact with them about 11:30 p.m. The family received a call from police at 1 a.m. and hurried to the station.

What police told them didn’t add up: Lei had visited prostitutes, was detained in a bust and died of a “heart attack” while on his way to the station.

The family arrived at the hospital at 4 a.m. to see Lei’s body and found his arms and forehead covered in bruises. Police prevented them from taking photos of the body.

The online post has since been deleted. [Source]

The Changping police claim that Lei was caught in a sting by plainclothes officers on a foot massage parlor doubling as a brothel. According to a police statement, Lei attempted to flee outside the massage parlor, and again from the police vehicle, climbing into the front passenger seat and jumping out of the car. The police then handcuffed Lei and brought him back into the car. He was “discovered to be unwell” and sent to the hospital, where he died at 10:55 p.m., according to the report.

Witnesses did tell Caixin that plainclothes police officers chased Lei, but other details of the police report do not match with the family’s account. For instance, the police say they found Lei in the massage parlor at 9:14 p.m., right after Lei had left for the airport. Netizens are also questioning the police account.

The Changping police have enlisted the “water army” in their fight for control of this story. CDT Chinese reports that dozens of comments supporting the police, and even condoning death as punishment for men who seek prostitutes, come from Weibo users with profile images of coy young women, all working for the “Ideal Office” (理想办公) in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province.

真Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source. See CDT’s collection of Directives from the Ministry of Truth since 2011.