Police in the northern highlands province of Thai Nguyen have placed a traffic officer on a three-month suspension for allegedly shooting and injuring a student during a controversial patrol last week.
Initial reports indicate that second lieutenant Truong Dinh Hoang and his senior colleague Nguyen Ngoc Hau of the police department in Thai Nguyen Town were on a plainclothes patrol last Friday night (August 6) when they found Nguyen Tuan Hung and Hoang Thi Tra riding a motorbike without wearing helmets.
The officers asked the couple to stop, said Hung, a senior student at the local Viet Duc Industry College, said.
But he refused to follow the order as he did not know they were officers. He feared that they were up to no good.
Hung kept riding and the officers chased after him, the student said.
They fired into the air, forcing them to stop, Hung said, adding that a shot fired as the police caught up with them, struck Tra.
Doctors said Tra, a student of the Thai Nguyen University of Education, was shot in her right thigh.
The bullet came from Hoang's gun, Nguyen Huu Tuan, vice director of Thai Nguyen Town police said Wednesday. Hoang will be suspended for three months pending further investigations, Tuan said.
Tuan said traffic police are allowed to carry and fire guns while on duty. Current regulations do not restrict officers to carrying their firearms while in uniform.
Whether the two officers behaved properly in firing their guns will be investigated, Tuan said.
The Ministry of Public Security last year allowed traffic officers to conduct undercover patrols.
Although the decision stated that disguised police are not allowed to stop violating vehicles, it provoked controversy, with some saying the decision would open the door to misconduct.