The commotion began when plainclothes officers arrived in the narrow street Saphan Hin Soi 6 on Thursday (Mar 11).
The officers arrived in three vehicles, one a black Isuzu SUV without licence plates, prompting local residents to gather around to see what the visitors wanted.
The officers took one suspect into custody, but not without firing a warning shot into the air.
While the commotion continued, one officer approached a 64-year-old woman, who asked to be named only as ‘Ms Chamoi’, who was sitting in front of her home taking photos of the situation unfolding.
The officer thought she was recording the arrest on video, Ms Chamoi said.
“The officer was angry, so I took a photo of him. He then took a photo of me and started taking photos of other people in the street,” she explained.
After an exchange of words, the officer angrily shoved Ms Chamoi in the chest, causing her to fall backwards onto a parked motorbike.
“Right now I still feel pain in my legs. The police did this incorrectly. Police can take pictures of people, but why can’t the public take a picture of the police? He [the officer] threatened to sue me, but I never broke the law,” Ms Chamoi said.
“[I/we] Would like the [police] supervisors to train and take care of their subordinates so they do not do things like this, especially with local residents who have not done anything wrong. We must respect each other, and they must remember that local residents are people too,” she added.
One local resident was outraged by the firing of the gun into the air.
“This community had hundreds of people, children as well as adults. If someone fires a gun into the air, where do they think the bullet goes? It doesn’t just disappear. It could fall onto someone’s head,” he said.
“If someone dies, will the officer be held responsible? Police need to be trained to not do this. People in our community do not accept it,” he added.
Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Pornsak Nuannoo responded to the incident yesterday (Mar 12), saying that officers were only doing their duty.
The officers already had two drug suspects in custody and had arrived in the street to arrest a third, he explained.
However, the suspect attempted to flee as local residents started crowding around the police officers’ vehicles, he said.
“At the scene, they shouted [for the suspect] to stop, but the suspect immediately tried to run away. The officer fired a single shot into the air for the crowd to disperse and the officer managed to arrest the suspect,” he added.
“This team of investigators has a long history of continuous drug arrests in the past and has never had a complaint [against them]. With this arrest, and with other drug-prone areas in Phuket, when the officers arrive there is often a problem with the public and sometimes they [the officers] are even surrounded,” Maj Gen Pornsak noted.
“The authorities understand this problem, and we are trying to do our best,” he said.