A police officer was on the run on Sunday after fatally shooting a 32-year-old man who beat a customer unconscious inside a general store in Kratie province, officials said.
The shooting occurred early Saturday evening after Oum Sina, 32, attacked a man waiting in line at a Wing mobile-payment station in Prek Prasap district’s Chroy Banteay commune, according to Huot Lim Heang, chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau.
Oum Sina approached the customer, Phorn Hy, and beat him unconscious with a wooden stick, Mr. Lim Heang said, adding that Mr. Hy suffered serious injuries to his neck and shoulder and was taken to the provincial referral hospital for treatment.
About 30 minutes later, commune police officer Tuon Lin and two fellow officers arrived, and Mr. Lin confronted Oum Sina—who was still holding the stick—outside the store, said district police chief Chan Sophalla.
“A police officer holding a gun in his hand went to tell him to drop the stick,” he said of Mr. Lin. “But he did not drop the stick and started moving closer.”
Mr. Lin fired a warning shot into the air with his police-issue AK-47 assault rifle, but Oum Sina continued to approach him, and the officer fired another shot into the ground near the man’s feet, Mr. Sophalla said.
“Our police officer was cornered and did not know how to escape because [Oum Sina] kept coming,” he said.
When Mr. Lin and Oum Sina began grappling at close quarters, the rifle went off and a bullet pierced the man’s chest, the police chief said, adding that Oum Sina stumbled about 100 meters down the road before falling over dead.
Mr. Lin and the other two officers fled the area and remained at large, he added.
“Our aim was to go there and bring him to the commune police station…but instead it turned into this incident,” he said.
Photographs of Oum Sina’s body show that the bullet entered the left side of his chest and exited through his back.
Mr. Lim Heang, the bureau chief, said Oum Sina was widely believed to be a drug addict and the police officer’s actions were “a kind of self-defense,” but added: “He is still guilty because the other person did not have a gun, and he used a gun.”
Both Mr. Lim Heang and Mr. Sophalla said no attempt would be made to locate or arrest Mr. Lin until the Kratie Provincial Court issued a formal warrant.
Hean Cheavkun, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, which is investigating the case, said Oum Sina’s death could have been avoided if police had handled the situation professionally.
“If they had worked together, they could have arrested him with their hands without using weapons,” she said.