A Canadian tourist was shot and killed by a Thai policeman, in the small northern Thai town of Pai two days ago. The Canadian man was shot and killed instantly, his girlfriend (in some news reports named as his ‘wife’) was also shot and is in stable condition in a Chiang Mai hospital.
John Leo Del Pinto, 25 was shot once in the face and once in the torso. His girlfriend, Carly Reisig, who is pregnant, was shot in the shoulder.
The policeman, Sgt. Uthai Dechawiwat, who was charged with premeditated murder said the couple were having an argument in the middle of the street and he intervened.
The couple grabbed for his gun and it accidentally went off ‘three times’. Dechawiwat was later released on bail.
Various reports have been coming out of the area from expat Westerners who either live in Pai or were visiting the town at the time.
One man, simply known as “JungleJim ” on Thaivisa.com forums wrote that he could indeed “confirm there was a shooting.
He went on to say “the couple in question were drunk and fighting in the street. A local off duty policeman witnessed this whilst eating in a nearby restaurant and intervened.
How the couple ended up getting shot I am not sure, and it has obviously been the subject of intense speculation here today. The policeman in question is a notoriously unstable individual who allegedly tried to kill himself a few weeks ago and was also rumoured to be drunk at the time of the incident.”
Another man known as “Sabaijai” wrote, “I spoke with two eyewitnesses on the scene in Pai, including the owner of the roadside restaurant. Both said the couple were definitely fighting and that Daeng (restaurant owner) asked the policeman to try and stop the fight.
Both descriptions of events matched the latest Bangkok Post report.
(Carly) Reisig is allegedly known in Pai for aggressive behaviour towards both resident farangs and Thais, had struck a policeman (the same policeman?) in Be-Bop Bar a few weeks earlier, and was seen fighting with her Thai boyfriend at the most recent Pittalew party.” (According to reports, Reisig currently has a Thai boyfriend, who is the father of her unborn child).
There was another police incident in 1995, when two British tourists were murdered by a Thai policeman in Kanchanaburi.
The British man was shot and killed, his girlfriend was run over by the policeman’s car and then shot execution style. The policeman was eventually arrested, after running away and blaming somebody else, and ultimately given a life sentence.
Unfortunately in cases like this in Thailand, the truth doesn’t always come out, with expats and Thais are left to wonder what really happened.
The police will occasionally collude in a cover-up, and Westerners also often get themselves into these situations by their behavior. Drinking alcohol until they fall down, becoming abusive to locals, starting fights and much much more.
The local Thais put up with the behavior for a while and then simply lose their patience.
What is sad is another Westerner is dead, and another Thai policeman has been charged with murder. The Thai tourist industry has been damaged again, which affects all of Thailand, not just the people involved in the incident.
It is also sad that these acts happen, but until Thai police are subjected to severe consequences for their actions and until more Westerners start to ‘behave themselves’, this type of incident is likely to continue.