In China, if you run over someone with your car, you’re more likely to make sure you finished the job and killed that person than try to make sure the injured person gets medical treatment.
According to Slate, the hit-to-kill phenomenon isn’t an urban legend. It exists mainly because of weird laws on victim compensation. The compensation for killing a victim in a traffic accident is usually somewhere between $30,000 to $50,000. A payment is made, and the matter is settled. But injuring a person can result in paying for lifetime care for a disabled survivor. The bills can amount to millions, and the Chinese press recently described how one disabled man received about $400,000 for the first 23 years of his care.
But it’s not just the money aspect of it. A lot of the drivers escape murder chargers. Even though there are video cameras recording some of these incidents these days, it seems that bribing local officials or hiring the right lawyer for enough money can get you out of anything. Sometimes the initial hit doesn’t even seriously injure the person, but the drivers make sure that they kill the victim.
Security camera footage from 2008 shows a car reversing and smashing into an elderly woman. The driver stops the car, and then hits the gas again causing his front wheels to roll over the woman, and then grind her into the pavement, before speeding away. He was not found guilty of intentional homicide. The court of Taizhou in Zhejiang province sentenced him to just three years in prison for “negligence”, accepting his claim that he thought he was driving over a trash bag.
This video from 2010 shows a BMW coming out of a parking spot and hitting a child and then rolling over his head. The driver crushed the child again, and then gets out of the car to guide the car and make sure he runs over the kid again and again. He then gets in the car, runs over the kid again and drives away. The driver was charged only with accidentally causing a person’s death, using the claim that he thought he ran over a trash bag or something similar, while police rejecting the murder charges or the fact that he fled the scene.
In Sichuan province, a truck hit a two year old boy who seemed to be merely dazed and got back up on his feet. However, as he was trying to walk and get his umbrella which was knocked across the street, the driver reversed and killed him. Eyewitness testimony wasn’t enough. The county chief of police declared that the truck had never reversed, never hit the boy a second time, and that the wheels never rolled over the child. A website posted photographs appearing to show the child’s body under the truck’s front wheel.
This sometimes leads to vigilante action. In 2013 a crowd in Zhengzhou in Henan province beat up a driver who killed a 6-year-old, allegedly running over him twice. There’s a television report claiming the crowd was acting on false rumors, but at least five witnesses say on camera that the man ran over the child a second time.
China has been passing laws trying to eliminate hit-to-kill cases. China’s legislature has emphasized that multiple-hit cases should be treated as murders. But even in what seems like clear cut cases with multiple run-overs by the driver over the victim, intent and causation seem hard to prove; as if judges, police and media accept unbelievable explanations that these things happened on accident, or that the driver thought he was going over an inanimate object.