Police shot dead a 25-year-old man at a cockfighting match in Tbong Khmum province Tuesday, in what they claimed was an accident during a raid on the illegal event.
Chhay Oeun was among the spectators at the outdoor match in Memot district’s Chan Moul commune when district police raided the event and began firing warning shots to prevent people from fleeing, provincial police chief Mao Pov said.
“[Police] did not intend to shoot and kill people,” Mr. Pov said. “They shot to warn people not to run away. They shot into the air and a bullet hit a tree and ricocheted and hit the man.”
Chan Moul commune police chief Chhor Darith said police moved in on the cockfighting ring in Kor village at about 11:30 a.m. and arrested five men, who remained in district police custody as of Tuesday afternoon.
Mr. Darith said 45 motorcycles, five roosters and a set of dice were confiscated during the police raid.
“The police shot into the air,” he said. “Chhay Oeun died immediately after he got hit near his left nipple.”
Mr. Darith said the illegal gambling ring had been operating in the commune for about a month, changing the location of fights to evade detection.
Muong Chheang, chief of Kor village, said men who were present at the cockfight when it was busted told him that police had fired their guns downward, not up into the sky.
“Villagers who witnessed the crackdown said police shot seven times into the ground,” the village chief said. “[Chhay Oeun] was shot in the chest while sitting on his motorbike.”
Seng Kun, 42, the father-in-law of Chhay Oeun, said he believed that police purposefully killed his son-in-law.
“The authorities intended to kill my son-in-law,” he said. “If the police had shot to threaten him, the bullet would not have hit his heart, it would have hit another area and he would not be dead.”