While chasing suspected thieves who shot a police officer in the leg while fleeing, police in Kompong Cham province accidentally shot an innocent man, officers said yesterday.
Khuon Narin, 20, was misidentified as one of the thieves and was shot in the leg while driving a motorbike with a friend along National Road 7, Suong city police chief Leang Eng said yesterday.
“Police shot them because they were tracking a group of thieves reportedly taking that route on two motorbikes. The driver of the motorbike ahead of [Mr Narin] shot a policeman in the leg…. That is why we shot,” Mr Eng said, adding that no action will be taken against the officer who opened fire.
“It was a mistake,” he said.
After Mr Narin was shot, traffic police and city police discovered he lived in Tbong Khmum district’s Chup commune, but the thieves were from Ponhea Krek district, Mr Eng said. Confusion over the brand of motorbike, the direction in which it was going and timing led police to open fire on the wrong person, he added.
Sann Visal, who was traveling on the motorcycle with Mr Narin at the time of the shooting, said that they were not given any signal to stop before being fired on by police.
“We did not see a barricade, lights or anything,” Mr Visal said.
“As we approached I saw a motorbike parked in the center of the road then the police opened fire on us,” Mr Visal recounted yesterday.
Though Mr Narin was shot in the leg, they continued on as police chased the pair on motorbikes to the nearby house of a friend where the officers caught up with them and fired into the ground ordering them to sit down, Mr Visal said.
Loeung Sitha, Mr Narin’s mother, said that her son is currently in hospital, and that it would take two months before his leg will heal enough for him to stand again.
“I just want to tell them [the police] that when on duty to catch thieves they should shout stop; if the thieves do not stop they should follow them; if the thieves still do not stop they should give a warning shot in the sky; and as a last resort they should shoot through the legs of the thieves,” Ms Sitha said.