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Police shooting sparks Koh Yao mob

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Police shooting sparks Koh Yao mob | Thaiger

PHANG NGA: Some 100 angry villagers on Koh Yao Noi descended upon the Koh Yao Police Station on Saturday after a youth, who was shot by a police officer the day before, died from his injuries.

The villagers arrived around 1 pm with the body of 20-year-old Theerawut Kumuda, who died 10 am Saturday morning.

Pol Col Jakkarit Srisuwan, Superintendent of the station, told the Gazette, “Around 10:30 pm on April 20 police were informed that about eight youths had refused to pay their restaurant bill. So L/Cpl Surin Muangthip and L/Cpl Boonlert Borisuth went to investigate.

“While they were on the way to the restaurant, which took about 10 minutes, the youths paid the bill, but our officers were unaware of that. So when they arrived they asked who hadn’t paid, and that made the group of youths angry and they began swearing at the police, so the police left.

“But as the officers were leaving a fight broke out in the group, and one man was injured, so the officers intervened and stopped the fight, which angered all the youths.

“The officers then left the restaurant, but they were followed by the youths, who were now carrying a knife and broken bottles.

“About 30 meters from the restaurant one of the officers fired his gun into the air and ordered them not to follow, but Theerawut charged at them. So L/Cpl Boonlert shot him once in the stomach,” Col Jakkarit said.

K. Theerawut was rushed to Koh Yao Hospital, then later transferred to Vachira Phuket Hospital, where he died.

“We detained the police officer who shot him and charged him with attempted murder, but we changed the charge to murder when we found out that the victim had died,” said Col Jakkarit, adding that the officer was charged because he should not have used his gun when defending himself.

Around noon on Saturday, before the protesters arrived, Phang Nga Vice-Governor Titawat Chaowalit met officers at the police station and heard Col Jakkarit’s description of events and a report from the Koh Yao Hospital doctor who treated Theerawut.

“We tried to explain to the villagers that we will follow the law and conduct a fair investigation, but the villagers demanded that we fire the policeman,” Col Jakkarit said.

“There was one point that we couldn’t concede – they wanted the officer to apologize directly to Theerawut’s body. We knew it was impossible to let him do that because as soon as he would have stepped outside he would have been beaten by the mob,” he explained.

Col Jakkarit said that around 5 pm the police agreed with K. Theerawut’s parents’ following demands:

1. that L/Cpl Boonlert be denied bail and remain in custody.

2. that police conduct a fair investigation.

3. that Col Jakkarit request that the Phang Nga Provincial Police Commander suspend the suspect without pay until the investigation is complete.

The victim’s parents also requested that L/Cpl Boonlert pay 500,000 baht restitution.

The mob dispersed after L/Cpl Boonlert apologized to the body from his jail cell.

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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