The fatal shooting of a 7-year-old girl by her 9-year-old cousin last Saturday (Aug 6) occurred only because a police officer attending a housewarming party left his loaded gun in an unlocked beside drawer in a bedroom while children were playing in the house unsupervised.
Phuket police have for years carried their firearms while not on duty, resulting in deadly shootings, including a shootout in Phuket Town in which the police officer himself was shot dead. Despite the deaths by firearms carried by off-duty police, the Royal Thai Police have refused to revise their policy.
And here we are again, this time with a little girl shot dead, and Phuket City Police Chief Col Sarawut Chuprasit is not even pretending to hold the officer responsible to any degree of negligence that led to the fatal shooting – a duty of care that would be extended to any other person not of uniform.
Col Sarawut spoke about the incident on Monday, two days after the shooting, only because of growing criticism online, with claims that police were feathering their own nest, and were not investigating or even publicly recognising the incident.
Then, of all things, he incredibly explained that the 9-year-old boy would be charged – while expecting the charge to be dismissed by the court – with no mention of any action to be taken against the officer involved.
Police have already negotiated with the family, with Col Sarawut himself reporting on behalf of the mother that she levels no blame on the officer for leaving a loaded gun lying around.
Apparently criminal negligence applies only when a non-uniformed person is involved, and apparently leaving a loaded gun accessible to unsupervised children is appropriate gun control behaviour by officers of the Royal Thai Police.
The current lack of action by police on this matter is despicable. It is sickening. It is shameful. According to Col Sarawut, there is no need to even try to prevent the next fatal shooting by a police officer’s gun, accidental or otherwise, even if the next victim is a child.
At the lowest level, one has to ask what would a mob boss do if one of his henchmen was responsible for leaving a loaded gun lying around that was used in the fatal shooting of a 7-year-old child in the community where the boss, like all mafia figures, wants to eventually be recognised as a legitimate business figure?
Even if the repercussions were not dire or threatening, they would at least be public. Some attempt would be made to prevent the accidental shooting of another child in the same community. With our police here in Phuket, apparently there is no need to do so.
As reports have shown in recent years, the deadly antics of the Royal Thai Police are becoming increasingly aloof. They appear to operate with impunity. They are not held accountable to anyone. They toss up to the public only those they want to present as a “bad apple” and continue to maintain that such officers conducted their illicit affairs alone. No one in any position of authority appears to challenge them.
And they wonder why only seven years ago residents in the “world class tourism destination” of Phuket rioted on Thalang Police Station, breaking windows, throwing bottles, bricks and rocks, and scorching vehicles using molotov cocktails.