Police deny using excessive force in fatal student shooting

Police block off the street in Min Buri district where the shootout took place early Monday morning. (Photos via Twitter/@fm91trafficpro)

Police have defended the actions of officers involved in a gunfight that led to the death of a 22-year-old student, following a drug bust in Bangkok early Monday morning.

Deputy Metropolitan Police Division 3 chief Chanwit Phumpho said police officers "did not use excessive force" and will be able to clarify all doubts with security camera footage.

Pol Col Chanwit was referring to a shoot-out in Min Buri district, which saw a plain-clothed police officer attacked for shooting dead Ekachai Boonrath, a senior at a vocational school in Bang Kapi.

The tragic chain of events began with a drug raid in Bang Kapi, where three suspects were arrested by anti-narcotics police.

Police said that as officers drove the suspects to the police station, Ekachai followed the police pick-up on a motorcycle.

"As Ekachai neared the vehicle, he began yelling at the suspects before opening fire at the officers' vehicle," Pol Col Chanwits.

The officers decided to ram the motorcycle to stop and arrest Ekachai, which led to a fire fight that ended with Ekachai's death. Shortly afterwards, Ekachai's friends arrived and tried to attack the officers.

After a video of the incident went viral, the plain-clothed officer -- referred to in the clip as "the man in the red shirt" -- was criticised for using excessive force.

According to Pol Col Chanwit, the officer acted in self defence and clarified that it was the officer's colleagues who fired the shots.

The three arrested suspects might have attempted to attack the student on the bike in order to flee, he said.

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