Traffic cop claims he swatted phone, not tourist, in viral Internet video

Friday, 10 January 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 2 By  Boonlua Chatree

A Pattaya traffic-police officer allegedly caught on video slapping a female Russian tourist claims only the camera angle made it look like he assaulted the woman.

Sen. Sgt. Maj. Noppakrit Pornwattankit pleaded innocence in the Dec. 31 incident that became another viral disaster for Pattaya tourism image. Security-camera footage of the scene was posted to YouTube and had been viewed about 50,000 times while making headlines worldwide.

The silent video shows police writing a ticket for a Russian couple. An argument ensues and, in the final seconds of the video, Noppakrit appears to slap the woman in the face.

Called in front of Pattaya Police Superintendent Col. Suwan Cheaonawinthawat, Noppakrit claimed he did not, in fact, strike the Russian. He only batted away her smartphone, which she was using the video record the incident, Noppakrit said.

The incident began, Noppakrit said, when he pulled over the Russian couple for driving their rented motorbike against traffic and wrote them a ticket for that as well as driving without a license. He said he ordered the bike seized, as per routine, and the couple sent to the police station to pay the fine.

Noppakrit said he left temporarily, but returned to find that the Russian woman had moved the bike to prevent its seizure. He then called the rental agency to take back the bike. When the men arrived, however, the Russian refused to surrender the bike and pulled out her mobile phone to video images of the police and rental agents involved.

Noppakrit admitted he became angry at being filmed and smacked the phone away. But from the angle of the security camera, it looked as if he struck the woman when, in fact, he didn’t, the officer contended.

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