Hong Kong police is investigating reports that officers used excessive force against pro-democracy protesters.
Local TV showed images of officers apparently beating a handcuffed protester on October 15 in some of the worst clashes since the protests began.
Hong Kong’s security chief said the officers had been “temporarily removed from their current duties”.
The incident occurred as police cleared an underpass near government buildings.
The police advance came when protesters blockaded the underpass after being cleared out of other areas of the city on October 14.
Overnight police used pepper spray and batons to remove protesters from Lung Wo Road which they said earlier had to be cleared as it was a major thoroughfare. They also arrested 45 people for “unlawful assembly”.
Local TV network TVB aired footage that appeared to show a group of plainclothes policeman dragging a handcuffed and unarmed protester and placing him on the ground.
They then assault him, kicking him repeatedly.
The man was named as Ken Tsang, a social worker and member of the opposition Civic Party. He was later taken to hospital.
Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said there was “concern” over a video clip “showing police officers who used inappropriate force against an arrested person”.
He said the officers seen on the video would be removed from their current duties and that an investigation would be carried out.
The protesters are now in their third week of occupying key parts of the city in a bid to put pressure on China and Hong Kong’s authorities to answer their calls for political reform.
Thousands of people took to the streets at the beginning of the demonstrations but the numbers have dwindled in recent days.
They are demanding fully free elections in the next vote for the territory’s leader. China, which has control over Hong Kong, says residents can vote – but it will vet which candidates are eligible to stand.
The clashes came on the third day of operations that police say are necessary to ease traffic disruption, but which they insist are not aimed at clearing the protesters.
Tsui Wai-Hung, a police spokesman, said none of the 37 men and eight women who were arrested had been hurt. Four police officers were said to have been injured.
Joshua Wong, a prominent student leader, told AFP news agency that trust between police and the activists was at a low point.
“The proper action police should take is to bring the protester to the police car, not to take him away and then punch and kick him for four minutes,” he said.
On October 15, China’s The People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official newspaper, said the protests were “doomed to fail” in a front-page editorial.
“Numerous facts and history tell us that if people start radical and illegal acts and there is submission to political blackmail, it will only result in more and more illegal activities and exacerbate instability and chaos,” the paper said.
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