Phnom Penh police are hunting a deputy commune police officer who shot dead a 23-year-old man, allegedly during a botched attempt to pistol-whip the victim, authorities said Monday.
Hang Ban, a goldsmith, was behaving in a drunken and disorderly manner at around 1:30 am Monday in Phsar Chas commune when deputy commune police chief Nuth Cheatra, 41, pistol-whipped him with a K-59 handgun, said Daun Penh district police chief Phan Pheng.
“The policeman hit the victim while holding the handgun’s trigger and accidentally shot the victim in the neck,” Phan Pheng claimed.
“When he struck the victim it was accidental,” he added.
“His handgun was cocked because at night he patroled his location while cracking down on gangs and drug users.”
Nuth Cheatra shot the 23-year-old after telling the man to go home, Phan Pheng said, adding that the victim had refused and instead cursed the officer.
Hang Ban died at the scene.
“Nuth Cheatra escaped with his handgun from the scene on a fast motorbike,” said Municipal Penal Police Chief Chuon Naren.
“Our police are seeking a warrant from the court to arrest him but he is now still at large,” he added.
However, Phan Pheng said that dead man’s family has not yet lodged a criminal complaint with police. He added that the family will receive compensation—which is usually given in return for victims to not press charges at the court.
“The victim’s family have not yet complained to our police station because they are busy with their son’s funeral,” Phan Pheng said.
Phnom Penh’s police force has suffered months of turmoil after revelations that the city’s former police chief, Heng Pov, was operating a team of assassins made up of other senior police officers.
At least 10 police men with links to Heng Pov have been arrested and jailed for their role in the killing of a judge, beating a woman to death in police custody and shooting a suspect dead in Toul Kok district.