Southern Vietnam police defend trigger-happy cop

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The Ca Mau Police Department is backing a lieutenant colonel who shot a handcuffed man at a local police station on February 5, saying they will investigate the latter for opposing government officials on duty.

"Lieu. Col. Duong Van Dung, deputy chief police of Tac Van Commune, was right when he fired his gun in the execution of his duty," said Colonel Nguyen Van Tuoi, deputy director of the Ca Mau Police Department.

The incident happened at around half past midnight on February 5 when commune resident Huynh Nhat Quang, 30, was driving home from a karaoke party with his friends on motorbikes. He was drunk.

The group was pulled over by Dung and other police officials near the Nguyen Du School in the commune because two of his friends were not wearing helmets.

"I knew Dung and asked him not to keep the bikes but he refused. I was drunk so I shouted and swung my hands and legs at them. They handcuffed me and took me to the local police station where Dung shot me near the ear," Quang said.

Quang said after he fired the gun, Dung was frightened and had someone take him to the hospital without opening the handcuffs.

On February 18, Quang's mother Le Kim Phung said he was being treated at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City and was recovering.

On February 19, the Ca Mau Town prosecutors' office ratified a proposal by the town police division to investigate Quang on charges of opposing government officials on duty.

Colonel Tuoi said Quang attempted to vandalize the furniture at the station and Dung was only firing a warning shot, but Quang threw himself forward into the line of fire.

Meanwhile, Dung admitted that he shot a rubber bullet at Quang's face when he was handcuffed, the Phap Luat Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh (Ho Chi Minh City Law) newspaper reported.

"At the station"¦ Quang still kicked the desk and chair and raised his handcuffed hands in an attempt to attack me, so I fired," the paper quoted him as saying.

Phung, Quang's mother, said she has hired a lawyer to defend her son.

A militiaman of Tac Van Commune who wanted to remain anonymous said Dung was partial to firing the gun.

"Dung is fond of shooting. A month ago, he fired his gun while interrogating a minor thief. Earlier, he fired while chasing a traffic violator," he said.

"In another case, a husband was beating his wife and we were attempting to handcuff him to take to the police station, and Dung also fired [warning shots] then," he added.

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