Police Admit to Shooting At, Arresting Wrong Men in NE Thailand

Weerapol Pansai, 30, and Suriyan Pakkavesa, 26, (L) speaking to officials at the government complaint center in Maha Sarakham province, 15 June 2015.

MAHA SARAKHAM — A police commander in northeastern Thailand has apologized to two men who plain-clothed officers shot at yesterday because they mistook them for suspected drug dealers.

Pol.Col. Anawin Phu-ngoen, superintendent of Borabue Police Station, said officers misidentified the two men as drug suspects because they were driving a similar-looking car.

“After we realized later that a mistake had occured, we contacted the families of the victims and are now preparing to conduct a ceremony to apologize to them,” Pol.Col. Anawin told Khaosod. “We have already compensated the victims for the damaged property.”

He added that police have convened a committee to investigate the officers involved in the case, and will start legal action as soon as criminal charges are filed.

Weerapol Pansai, 30, and Suriyan Pakkavesa, 26, who filed a complaint at a government center in Maha Sarakham province today, said they were driving to the town center yesterday afternoon when the officers, who were not wearing uniforms at the time, shot at the wheels of their vehicle without warning.

Weerapol said he and his friend then ran for their lives but were soon caught by the men, who identified themselves as police officers, and accused them of being drug dealers. According to Weerapol, the officers forced him to admit that he owned a drug package that had been placed in his car after he ran away. He was reportedly kicked several times when he insisted that he had no knowledge of the package.

The two men were later escorted to Borabue Police Station, where they again plead their innocence, and were eventually released after police officers realized they had misidentified the pair. Weerapol and Suriyan said an officer named Pol.Lt.Cpt. Pichet Si-ong apologized and gave them a gift basket and five thousand baht in cash as compensation.

Weerapol said he filed the complaint today because he believes the officers involved in the incident should face legal action.

“If the bullets missed the mark and killed us, who would be responsible for taking care of our families?” Weerapol  told reporters today. “I want this group of police officers to be charged in the legal system.”