Police Officer Arrested, Later Released After Shooting in Air

A police officer was arrested on Tuesday night for firing his state-issued K-59 pistol into the air after getting into a fight at a Khmer New Year party in Phnom Penh, but he was released without charge the same night, police said.

The officer, Kong Sokhom, a member of the Chamkar Mon district police force, was at a dancing party in Dangkao district’s Spean Thma commune at about 9:30 p.m. when a fight erupted between a close friend of his and some other locals. Mr. Sokhom then stood up and shot his gun into the air four times, according to Spean Thma commune deputy police chief Tuon Sambath.

“The shooting made people run over each other to get away…. They were surprised and afraid,” Mr. Sambath said, adding that nobody was injured in the incident.

Shortly after he discharged his gun, Mr. Sokhom was arrested and brought to Dangkao police headquarters along with his friend, Van Saody, 27, Mr. Sambath said.

“He is a police officer and shooting like this is wrong,” he said. “He knows the law and he has to think about what is right and what is wrong.”

However, Dangkao district police chief Yim Socheat said he had quickly concluded that the shooter was in the right and decided to let him go on Tuesday night.

He said Mr. Sokhom had explained that he only shot into the air to break up the fight between Mr. Saody and the six other men because he was scared of physically intervening.

“He shot to break up the fighting, and if we detained him it would seem to be unjust for him, and also he has a license for using the weapon,” Mr. Socheat said.

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