|A 48-year-old man enters the Incheon District Court, Nov. 17, for a court review on whether to issue an arrest warrant for him after he allegedly stabbed a neighbor over a noise complaint. Yonhap|
By Jun Ji-hye
Police in Incheon are facing fierce criticism over a "bungled" response to an attempted murder, with family members of the victim calling for severe punishment for those responsible.
The case also raises a gender issue after it became known that a female police officer left the crime scene after the assailant stabbed the victim.
The incident occurred at a small apartment building in Incheon's Namdong District, Nov. 15, when a male and a female police officer were sent to an apartment on the third floor, after three family members living there ― a man in his 60s, his wife in her 40s and their daughter in her 20s ― reported a 48-year-old man living on the fourth floor to police.
The three claimed the neighbor repeatedly harassed and threatened them after they filed a complaint over noise coming from his apartment, located above theirs.
While the male officer was talking to the husband on the first floor, the female officer was on the third floor talking to the wife and daughter. During this time, the neighbor came down to the third floor and threatened the women with a knife, despite the police officer being present.
After the wife was stabbed in the neck, the officer ran to the first floor "to request for assistance," leaving the wife and daughter alone on the scene, resulting in the daughter suffering injuries to her face and hands after being assaulted by the man.
The wife was rushed to a hospital and underwent an operation, but has not yet regained consciousness. The daughter was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Police took the offender into custody on charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault resulting in injuries.
The incident has provoked controversy over whether the officer leaving the scene was the appropriate response.
"I think these police can also be called offenders as they neglected their duty and aided and abetted the attempted murder," a woman identifying herself as a younger sister of the wife wrote on a petition posted on the Cheong Wa Dae website, Friday. "They even attempted to mollify us, as we took issue with their response."
The petitioner continued, "Severe punishment for those responsible is necessary."
As the incident involved a female officer and rumors spread that she ran away from the scene because she was frightened, questions are also being raised in male-dominated online communities over the necessity of female police officers, at a time when gender conflict has been deepening in recent years here.
Another petition on Cheong Wa Dae website called for the female officer to be dismissed "for abandoning the victim and running away."
Amid the growing controversy, National Police Agency Commissioner General Kim Chang-yong made an apology. "Protecting people's lives and safety is the police's most important mission. But we failed to do so in this incident. I offer a deep apology to the victims, their family and the public," he said in a written statement, Sunday.
He added the two officers are under investigation, and heads of police agencies across the country will gather Monday to draw up measures to prevent any recurrence of a similar incident.