Cuffed Man Shoots Himself in Police Custody

A 24-year-old man died in police custody in Phnom Penh on Tuesday morning after he supposedly freed himself from handcuffs, opened a locked drawer containing a pistol and shot himself in the head, police claimed.

Khem Ra was arrested at about 11 p.m. Monday night after police found him sneaking around on the roof of a house in Meanchey district’s Prek Pra commune, said deputy commune police chief Chun Sotivea.

Mr. Sotivea claimed that as he was questioning Khem Ra and his older brother at the commune police station the next morning, he briefly stepped out to buy some bread on the street, during which time the suspect freed himself from his handcuffs and committed suicide using the officer’s pistol.

“When I left the police station, I put my handgun in a locked desk drawer [in my office], and I put the key [to the drawer] on the desk. When I returned, the suspect had run into my office and locked the door. I don’t know how he got out of his handcuffs,” he said.

“Other police officers and the suspect’s brother called to him from outside, but the suspect shot once into the ceiling and a few minutes later, he shot himself in the head and died,” he added.

Commune police chief Sok Dara said Khem Ra appeared mentally unstable at the time of his questioning.

“He was acting like a drug addict, because when he was questioned at first, he said that he had been trying to steal a phone to sell for a bus ticket to his hometown, but when he was questioned again, he said he had only wanted to take a nap on the roof,” Mr. Dara said.

(Additional reporting by Marisa Marcelino)

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