POLICE accidentally shot and killed an air force officer Sunday evening after responding to a report of a brawl involving two groups of construction workers in Dangkor district, officials said Monday.
Chout Sok Heng, deputy chief of Dangkor district police, said three Choam Chao commune police officers and one Interior Ministry intervention police officer arrived at the scene of the fight at 8:30pm.
The construction workers – who were embroiled in a dispute over salaries – fled the scene after seeing the officers, witnesses said.
Witnesses said the officers then tried to storm into a nearby house, telling the nine people inside to kneel down on the ground. Some of those inside, however, tried to block the front door, prompting police to open fire.
Buth Saroeun, a 35-year-old officer with Royal Cambodian Air Force Battalion 91, was shot in the throat and died instantly.
Buth Virat, 37, the victim’s older brother, took issue with the claim by officials that the shooting was unintentional, telling the Post, “It is not true that the officer who shot my brother did so by accident”.
But Sok Heng stood by the official version, adding, “I feel terribly sorry and regretful that the soldier was shot dead during a police intervention”.
He said district officials would give the family 300,000 riels (US$72), though he added that this should not be interpreted as an admission of wrongdoing.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho, said the claim that the shooting was accidental was a ploy to reduce any sentence that might result from a criminal case.