A police detention vehicle ran into a protester during protests at Din Daeng intersection, police confirmed Monday.
The moment at 11:55 pm Sunday was captured in footage published on Facebook Livestream by online news agency The Reporters.
It shows a police van accelerating through an intersection, before braking just as it hits a man running across the road, knocking him down. The van then stops some way down the road while passers-by help the man off the road, before the clip ends.
An officer was returning the van to its base via the Din Daeng intersection when “six to seven protesters with blunt objects ran into and attacked the vehicle,” the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau Phukpong Phongpetra told a press conference.
“As the officer driving the vehicle was unarmed and to prevent further destruction to property he decided to flee,” he said. “While fleeing the scene he ran into the protester, then stopped.”
“After assessing that the protester was not severely injured, he drove as far as Phra Mongkut hospital, where the vehicle became undrivable and he returned to his post and reported,” said Phukpong.
Protests have been held at Din Daeng intersection since early August. Confrontations between protesters and riot police have seen near-daily exchanges of fireworks, ping pong bombs and tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons, resulting in injuries to protesters, police, and press.
Opposition MPs from Move Forward Party and Pheu Thai Party have expressed concern over continued use of force by the authorities.
“I feel that the use of force by the police has been increasing, which is worrying,” stated Deputy leader of the Pheu Thai Party Pichai Naripthaphan.
Pichai told the Thai Enquirer that instead of the police trying to negotiate with the people, end up hurting the people instead.
“People are protesting because they do not see a future in this country because of the battered economy where they cannot find a job and wonder when their next meal will be. It seems that the government does not see the people protesting as citizens of this country, and uses violence towards them.”
Rangsiman Rome from the Move Forward Party told the Thai Enquirer that “If the police wants to restore people’s confidence in the police force, the only way is that they would need to cease all acts of excessive violence, from kicking people off their motorbikes to shooting rubber bullets continuously, and to return to the principle of what a police force is meant to do.”
Phukpong stated in the press conference that the police have not fired a single live round, while they have the right to defend themselves.
“We are being injured every day, from guns, explosive devices, and hard objects, but the police have not responded with live ammunition. In some cases the police have the right to defend themselves, but we continue to use riot equipment.”