Policeman hit with 7 charges over fatal zebra crossing accident
The policemen who allegedly caused the death of a doctor in a road accident has been slapped with seven charges, the Metropolitan Police Bureau said on Monday amid a barrage of criticism online.
Pol Lance Corporal Norawit Buadok, an officer of the Protection and Crowds Control Division, rammed his big-bike motorcycle into Dr Waralak Supawat-Jariyakul, an ophthalmologist at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, leading to her death.
The accident happened at the zebra crossing in front of Bhumirajanagarindra Kidney Institute Hospital on Phya Thai Road on Friday (January 21). Footage from a CCTV showed a speeding Ducati motorcycle, allegedly ridden by Norawit who was off-duty, collide into Warlock, hurling her into the air.
Pol Maj-General Jirasan Kaewsaeng-ek, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, held a press conference on Monday to announce the charges against Norawit.
Monday’s press conference was held after angry netizens cried foul that a policeman, who was supposed to enforce the law, had himself broken traffic rules, leading to the death of the young doctor. Netizens also suspected police might try to help their fellow policeman receive lighter penalties. The netizens noted that police investigators at the scene had waited for two hours before informing the doctor’s family and there was no information on the blood alcohol level test on Norawit.
Jirasan started the press conference by expressing his condolences to Waralak’s family. He and other police officers at the press conference stood in silence for one minute.
Jirasan said Norawit would also enter the monkhood at an appropriate time to make merit for the deceased doctor.
Jirasan said that after Norawit had received treatment for his injuries, he had turned himself at Phya Thai Police Station to face charges. Investigators are pressing seven charges:
- Reckless driving causing death
- Using a vehicle without a licence plate
- Riding a motorcycle outside the far left lane
- Riding a motorcycle without rear-view mirrors
- Failing to observe traffic signs painted on the road
- Using a vehicle for which tax has not been paid
- Failing to stop for a pedestrian to cross at a zebra crossing.
Jirasan said the case against Norawit would be forwarded to public prosecutors for arraignment by February 11.
He said the policeman did not argue against any of the charges. Since Norawit had turned himself in, he was freed pending arraignment without having to place any asset as a guarantee, Jirasan said, adding that the same practice is also followed for general members of the public. He insisted that police investigators had not shown any leniency towards Norawit.
Jirasan added that the investigators had checked the blood-alcohol level of Norawit when he had turned himself in but did not detect any alcohol.
The deputy Metropolitan police chief said Norawit’s division had also set up an investigation committee to conduct a criminal and disciplinary probe against him and it would be wrapped up as soon as possible.
Reacting to criticism that investigators at the scene had dragged their feet for too long, ostensibly to help Norawit, and had waited two hours before informing the family of the victim, Jirasan explained that the investigators initially could not identify the doctor.
The investigators found the doctor’s mobile phone but it was locked so the investigators spent time checking footage of CCTVs at the spot to find out what had happened.
Jirasan said police could identify Waralak only when her friend called her two hours later, at 4.30pm, to remind her to go to work at her hospital. Police then asked the friend to help contact the doctor’s family.
Jirasan also denied that the suspect was driving a motorcycle seized as evidence for a crime. He said the motorcycle had been bought second-hand for Bt110,000 on December 14. The policeman had shown the purchase documents to the investigators, Jirasan added.