Police beat motorist, crowd seize police motorcycle

(VNRN) – Claiming the police hit a motorist causing him to fall and hit his head, a crowd of bystanders on May 4 surrounded the officers and seized their motorcycle. The police, however, left the scene and later asserted the man swerved and fell on his own.

Eyewitnesses told numerous Vietnamese media that Truong Van Hanh (Trương Văn Hạnh), 22, was riding his motorbike on National Route 51 in southern Dong Nai province around 9am when a police officer on motorcycle struck him with a baton, causing him to lose control. The police then threw the baton at his back, making him fall and hit his head on the ground.

When the crowd of witnesses saw what happened, they surrounded the police and demanded an investigation. They would not allow the officers to take off on their motorcycle, so the police walked away. By the time reporters from adjacent Ho Chi Minh City arrived in the afternoon, the people were still there, still holding on to the motorcycle.

Hanh was taken to the hospital for emergency treatment. Doctors told the Thanh Nien newspaper that Hanh was conscious when admitted, but complained that his head hurt and his right temple was all swollen. Doctors diagnosed a crack in the skull on the right.

Hanh told the paper that he was struck when police on motorcycle chased him and hit him with a baton. He admitted to crossing the lane markings and rode into the lane reserved for cars.

Witnesses show reporters the baton they say Dong Nai police used to hit and throw at Truong Van Hanh. Photo by Tuoi Tre.

Lt. Col. Huynh Van Tai, the commander of the motorcycle police force in Long Thanh district told Thanh Nien that Hanh was speeding and, upon seeing the police, made a sudden stop and u-turn and “fell on his own.”

Col. Tran Tien Dat, chief of staff at the provincial police office, however, told Tuoi Tre newspaper that the police flagged down Hanh for not strapping down his helmet. Hanh ran away and after 20 meters “fell on his own.”

Col. Dat said that the police were taking Hanh to a clinic but said the family did not want to. Col. Dat accused the family of “taking him to another hospital and made the issue all complicated.”

Traffic police in Vietnam routinely use force to stop motorists with minor infractions, who would then pay off the officers. The bribery system is so widespread and protected that journalists who expose it are routinely harassed. In 2012, Tuoi Tre’s reporter Hoang Khuong (Hoàng Khương), was sentenced to 4 years in prison after staging and reporting on a sting operation catching a police captain taking 13 million dong (US$6500) to release an impounded motorbike.

Photo top: Truong Van Hanh is being hospitalized in Dong Nai province after the police allegedly hit and threw a baton a him causing him to fall and hit his head on the ground. Photo by Thanh Nien News.

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