A senior police officer who is the son of a high-ranking government official has been demoted following the release of video footage showing him shooting at a car from his own vehicle after he clipped it while overtaking, a National Police official announced on Wednesday.
Lim Chamnan, the son of a secretary of state at the Interior Ministry, was demoted from lieutenant colonel to major and stripped of his position as deputy chief of the Kandal provincial traffic police bureau by order of Interior Minister Sar Kheng, said National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith.
“[Mr.] Sar Kheng has decided to discipline Mr. Lim Chamnan, even though we did not receive a complaint from the victim,” General Chantharith says in a video posted to the National Police website on Wednesday.
He says Mr. Chamnan was dropped from deputy chief to a traffic officer. His father is Pol Lim, a former deputy National Police chief.
Mr. Chamnan was accused of firing at another car from his Toyota Camry after he collided with a vehicle as he overtook it on National Road 1 in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district on Saturday evening, a provincial police official said this week.
Video footage of the incident shared online by Fresh News on Sunday shows the Camry striking the other car as it speeds past. When the other driver starts to follow, sounding her horn, the driver’s window opens and a gun appears before a shot is heard.
Provincial police chief Iev Chamroeun on Monday said Mr. Chamnan “was not arrested because he is the son of a high-ranking government official,” but that he had received orders to fine Mr. Chamnan.
Mr. Chamroeun referred questions to Gen. Chantharith, who referred a reporter to the video on the National Police website. In the video, Gen. Chantharith says the punishment follows police regulations.
Police officers found to have fired a weapon “without an order or without a legitimate reason” may be subject to demotion of rank or expulsion from their unit, post or the police force, National Police disciplinary regulations say.
Sok Sam Oeun, a legal expert, said that other than in cases of self-defense, it is illegal for someone to shoot at a car, which could carry a charge of attempted murder.
On Monday, Mr. Lim said his son had used his gun in self-defense because the other driver was chasing him.
A police officer with the rank of lieutenant colonel, who is allowed to carry a handgun when off duty, might be justified in firing into the air as a warning to potential assailants, but “if there’s no reason, it’s illegal too,” Mr. Sam Oeun said.
(Additional reporting by Matt Surrusco)