Man in mob face-off with police officers gets 10 weeks' jail

He pleads guilty to being part of unlawful assembly, in incident that saw cop draw gun

An aggressive crowd of up to 100 people in a Geylang back lane prompted a plainclothes policeman on an anti-vice raid to draw his revolver for his safety, a court heard.

The sergeant pointed the revolver's laser at the crowd, but a 48-year-old man, who was undeterred, challenged the officer to shoot him.

Yesterday, Ng Bing Hui, a 22-year-old man who was part of the unruly crowd, was jailed for 10 weeks after he pleaded guilty to being part of an unlawful assembly.

At about 9.45pm on July 24 last year, five plainclothes officers from Geylang Neighbourhood Police Centre on anti-vice duties saw an 18-year-old promoting a game of Si Gor Luck, or Sic Bo (a game of dice), at a makeshift gaming table in the back lane between Lorong 14 and Lorong 16 in Geylang.

Suspecting that he was promoting illegal gambling, they used force to handcuff him as he resisted arrest and tried to flee.

While the officers tried to arrest him, a crowd of about 80 to 100 people gathered. Some of them were sympathetic to the suspect and became agitated, and even shouted at the policemen to release him.

The crowd then moved towards the officers, ignoring their repeated instructions to move back.

Five people - Ng, Ho Hock Hui, 48, Kee Hong Yong, 30, and at least two other unknown persons in the crowd - shouted vulgarities and gesticulated aggressively towards the policemen.

In order to maintain a safe distance from the crowd, the officers moved the teenager and stood with him behind the makeshift gaming table. But the crowd surrounded them and continued behaving in a threatening manner.

Ng then moved towards the front of the crowd and shouted vulgarities while pointing his finger at the policemen. While he was gesturing at them, his hand came into contact with the gambling table, flipping it over.

Kee then picked up the metal table stand and waved it at the policemen in a threatening manner.

The officers continued retreating until they were backed up against a wall. Undeterred, the mob continued moving towards them, even though several uniformed policemen had arrived and were trying to disperse it.

Fearing for their safety, the sergeant drew his revolver and pointed it at the crowd. His finger was not on the trigger.

This prompted the crowd to step back, but Ho stepped forward and walked towards him. He shouted vulgarities and challenged the policeman to shoot him. Instead, the officer put his revolver back in its holster. Shortly after, more policemen arrived and dispersed the crowd.

The incident was partially captured on closed-circuit television cameras. Ng, Kee and Ho were arrested in the area on the same night.

Four out of five of the plainclothes officers on the anti-vice raid had minor injuries from the confrontation with the crowd. They were given one to two days of medical leave.

Kee, Ho, and Harold Ho Kuo Lung, the teenager accused of promoting illegal gambling, have yet to be dealt with.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Dwayne Lum and Stephanie Koh asked for three to four months' jail for Ng. Mr Lum said: "In the present case, the net effect of the entire unruly mob served to intimidate and threaten the lives and safety of the police officers carrying out their duties that night."

Ng's pro bono lawyer, Ms Cheryl Ng, asked for one month in jail for Ng, who works as a deliveryman and was exempted from national service owing to his low IQ.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2016, with the headline Man in mob face-off with police officers gets 10 weeks' jail. Subscribe