When Mr. Li told her that he could not, she grew irate, Chris Li said. She then told Mr. Li that everything in her asylum declaration was fabricated. After that, Mr. Li told her he would no longer represent her. When she threatened him and attempted to choke him, he called the police.
The police confirmed that they came to the office shortly before 5 p.m. on Friday to respond to an “emotionally disturbed person,” that there was a dispute in the office and that no arrests had been made.
On Monday morning, Ms. Zhang returned to the law office shortly after Mr. Li arrived, bringing a cake to the front desk and telling employees there that she was grateful to them, Chris Li said.
She accompanied Mr. Li into his office, and employees soon heard screaming. Chris Li said that when he entered the office, Mr. Li was bleeding from the neck and the abdomen and Ms. Zhang was standing behind him.
Mr. Li was born on Sept. 7, 1955, in Wuhan and joined the Chinese Army at the age of 15, said his friend Mr. Zhu. He then worked as a policeman and studied at a university in Wuhan, where he focused on law. He majored in constitutional law at Beijing University, graduating in 1985. After working as a professor in Wuhan, he returned to Beijing for his doctorate, where he had a high place in the student government.
“Usually people at that level means they have a very bright future with the government and with the party,” said Jianzhong Gu, a longtime friend of Mr. Li’s. “But Jim Li was not working in that way. He had his own ideas.”
Mr. Li was a doctoral student in 1989 when the Tiananmen Square protests began with thousands demonstrating against the Chinese Communist Party, criticizing corruption and calling for democratic freedoms. He served as a legal adviser to the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation, the key organization of workers that aligned itself with the students seeking freedom.