A stabbing death on Monday in Jiangsu Province has sparked a nationwide debate over whether the suspect's behavior should be considered self-defense.
A gif showing Yu (the cyclist in while) attacking Liu using Liu's knife in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province on Monday, August 27, 2018. (Photo: thepaper.cn)
The incident, which was captured on surveillance video, shows the 41-year-old suspect, whose surname is Yu, riding his bicycle in the bike lane on the side of a road in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province. A driver, a 36-year-old victim surnamed Liu, pulled his car into the bike lane, colliding with Yu's bicycle.
The argument that followed descended into a physical conflict. A witness told journalists with Beijing News that Yu restrained from fighting back. Liu then returned to his car, pulled out a knife, and rushed at the cyclist, waved the knife in front of him and allegedly cutting him several times.
During the scuffle that followed, Liu dropped the knife. Yu then picked up the knife and stabbed Liu. Yu chased Liu as he tried to get back to his car, and stabbed him again.
Yu remained at the scene of the incident until police arrived. Liu died from his injuries.
The incident has triggered public controversy over whether Yu's behavior is justifiable as self-defense. Many netizens have commented online that Yu's actions were justifiable, as he was put in the position of being forced to defend himself.
But lawyer Bao Hua has a different view. He said that it was justifiable for Yu to fight Liu off, but that continuing to attack him as he chased him opens Yu up to charges of causing intentional injury. Similarly, Deng Xueping, a lawyer in Shanghai, told Beijing News that, having been stabbed five times as he ran to his car, Liu was unlikely to have posed an ongoing risk to Yu, and so the final attack by the cyclist could be considered excessive.
But views vary even among legal professionals. "For Yu, the sense of uneasiness still exists, regardless of that fact that he had taken control of the knife. Considering that his opponent is aggressive, the offensive mentality of searching for other tools to fight could not be ruled out," emphasized Ruan Qilin, a professor of Criminal Law at China University of Political Science and Law.
Ye Zhusheng, a practicing lawyer and lecturer at South China University of Technology, said that Yu has every reason to believe that even if he had grabbed the knife, Liu and his companions still had a good opportunity to counterattack.
"Liu, when he lost his knife, kept fighting; he didn't stop fighting or show fear. He chose to run back to the car where he previously picked up his knife, so Yu had a reasonable reason to believe that Liu might continue to commit crimes," Ye Zhusheng told journalists with the Beijing News.