Back in January the Royal Thai Police (RTP) at the San Sai Police Station proudly posted on its Facebook page video and still images of police undergoing training on how to disarm and contain a suspect armed with a long-bladed weapon, such as a machete or sword.
While the photos and video of Thailand’s brown-clad crime busters was designed to instil confidence, closed circuit television (CCTV) footage of Thai police attempting to subdue and detain a person at a petrol station in the restive southern province of Patani does anything, but that.
While the San Sai cops, armed with shiny steel poles, were able to demonstrate how to bring an armed suspect to his knees, their counterparts in southern Thailand found that what works in training doesn’t necessarily work in the field.
In the above video, a suspect reported by local media to have been under the influence of yabba (methamphetamine) is seen in a PTT petrol station brandishing what appears to be a large knife, the fuel hose discarded nearby.
After diverting one security camera, the suspect holds Thai police and Royal Thai Army (RTA) soldiers at bay until a plain-clothes police officer attempts to take him down with a flying kick.
As the action moves out of sight of the camera, soldiers armed with M16s can be seen shuffling in only to beat a hasty retreat seconds later, the offender aggressively pursuing them, waving his weapon wildly.
Back and forth, the suspect, armed soldiers and Thai police scurry in scenes reminiscent of British TV comedy series The Benny Hill Show.
In a moment of desperation, or possibly panic, one of the law enforcement team fires his weapon, the 5.56 x 45mm round hitting the petrol station’s concrete floor at some 948m/s (3,110ft/s) and ricocheting into another officer who is then loaded into the back of a pick-up truck.
A second member of the law enforcement team then seems to wound the suspect, who next appears limping. Another ricocheting round can be seen as the suspect pursues another Thai police officer.
The suspect is finally subdued with a few kicks to the head when he attempts to get onto a motorcycle parked within one metre (3.28 ft) of another M16-toting law enforcement officer, who finds that slapping the suspect with the barrel is a more effective use of the weapon than attempting to shoot it.
No word was immediately available on the condition of the shot Thai soldier. According to local media the suspect, a Laos PDR national, faces a string of charges including being being drunk in a public place, drugs charges, and attempting to kill a Thai police officer and Thai soldier.
In the meantime it’s suggested that the Thai police make their training video with hooked poles more widely available so that perpetrators know how things are supposed to go.
Seriously though, apart from the friendly fire incident, hats off to the Thai police and military involved. Almost anywhere else in the world and the story is likely to have ended with a dead perpetrator.
How it’s supposed to go
Feature video San Sai Police Station