Hit-and-run cop reflects badly on entire force: police spokesman

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Binh Duong police have pledged strict action against a police officer who allegedly hit a motorbike driver fatally while driving and attempted to get away before being stopped by local residents.

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Pham Xuan Truong, a spokesman for the police department in the southern province bordering Ho Chi Minh City, said they have suspended Captain Le Quang Binh pending further investigation into the case. Binh is deputy head of the department's social order and safety research division.

Binh's Party membership has also been suspended, Truong told the media at a press briefing on October 23.

The accident happened at around 7 p.m. on October 20 after Binh, who was drinking with his friends, borrowed a five-seater car to take his wife and child from a different place back to their home.

At the corner of Le Hong Phong and Road 743, he hit a motorbike but didn't stop. The motorbike driver, who did not fall, began to chase him.

Binh hit another motorbike while fleeing and the bike driver 28-year-old Nguyen Huu Quan was thrown off. However, Binh continued to speed with the motorbike stuck in the front of his car.

Some nearby xe om (motorbike taxi) drivers, including Nguyen Van Meo, joined the chase and stopped the car some four kilometers away from the accident spot.

"Around 30 motorbikes were chasing the car. The motorbike stuck under the car was dragged on the street creating sparks but luckily there was no explosion. We managed to stop him near Tan Phuoc Khanh market," Meo said.

"The driver locked himself inside the car while hundreds of furious residents were surrounding and threatening to smash the glass window to take him out," he said.

The victim, Quan, was rushed to Binh Duong General Hospital, but later transferred to the Cho Ray Hospital in HCMC, where he was pronounced dead in the early hour on October 22.

Quan was a construction worker from Binh Duong's Thu Dau Mot Town. He was married and had a five-year-old child.

"He was on the way back from work. I don't know how to live on and bring up my child," cried his wife, Nguyen Thi Bich Nhung.

Nguyen Van Ha, Quan's uncle, said they were not informed by the police about the accident. Some residents checked his phone and called the family and they arrived at the Binh Duong General Hospital only to see him bandaged up with blood on his head.

"We just want the one who caused the accident to be dealt with in accordance with the law no matter who he is," he said, adding that a person claiming to be Binh's relatives had visited Quan at the Cho Ray Hospital and gave VND20 million (US$954) to the family.

At the Sunday press briefing, Truong said Binh had admitted to the crime, but what he reported was a little bit different. He claimed he did not hit the first motorbike and that was only a close call. He said he was only chased by some xe om drivers on the way back to return the car, after taking his relatives home.

"Before causing the accident, Binh had drunk beer," Truong confirmed. He rejected residents' accusation that Binh does not have a driving license.

Truong admitted that the hit-and-run has angered the public and created a bad image for the provincial police department.

He said Binh, 36, should not be a police official anymore, but stressed he was yet to be dismissed from service. "Investigations have to be completed before any charges are filed against him," he said.

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