Three police officers in Bijie city in Guizhou province have been detained after they were found to have attacked and injured a journalist, according to a release posted by a joint investigation team on Thursday.
One of the attackers, surnamed Xiong, was then deputy head of the police station in Machang township in Zhijin county, while the two others — surnamed Tao and Li — were the station's auxiliary police officers, the release said.
Xiong and Tao have been given 20-day administrative detention, and Li has been given 15 days, it stated. Xiong has also been removed from office, and Tao and Li have been dismissed.
In addition, the deputy Party secretary of Machang township has also been removed from office for overall responsibility as local leader for the incident.
According to the release, the police station in Maochang township, a township near Machang, received a call from a journalist at 6:22 pm on Tuesday, who claimed that he had been attacked at a nearby hydroelectric plant.
Police arrived on the scene and took the reporter, who has only been identified as being surnamed Li and who works for Jimu News in Hubei province, to a hospital nearby. The journalist was diagnosed with multiple soft tissues injuries.
The attack aroused the attention of the city's government, which quickly set up a joint investigation team, including members from its public security bureau and commission for political and legal affairs, to investigate the case.
The official release stated that the journalist used his smartphone to film a car after discovering it was following him on his way to report in Shaba village on Tuesday.
The three police officers from Machang township who were in the car, got out and attempted to stop the journalist from filming. They scuffled, injuring his face and other parts of his body, as well as breaking his smartphone and glasses.
"The incident has taught us a lesson, and exposed the poor grasp some officials have of the law. The attack created harm to the media and had a negative effect on society," the release stated. "We would like to apologize to the journalist, and accept the public's criticisms."
According to a Shanghai-based news portal, Sixth Tone, the attack happened while the journalist was investigating the deaths of two teachers.
The deaths occurred on April 13, when a hydropower station reportedly released a surge of water into the river where a small group of teachers were present. Family members of the deceased teachers said that the group had been sent to the river by school leaders to collect pebbles and pine cones to decorate the campus, but the county's official has denied this. An investigation is still under way.