Emotions ran high as local riot officers involved in this month’s deadly police effort to reclaim Bangkok’s Phan Fah Bridge returned to Pattaya Police Station.
Superintendent Col. Supachai Phuikaewkhum broke down in tears as he greeted the Pattaya-based officers tasked to the Center for Maintaining Peace and Order to retake areas of the city held by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee.
Superintendent Col. Supachai Phuikaewkhum breaks down in tears as he welcomes home local officers who had been deployed to the demonstrations in Bangkok.
Five people where killed, including one police officer, in the Feb. 19 operation. Scores more were injured, including Chonburi Sr. Sgt. Maj. Theeradet Lekphoo, who has become an overnight celebrity on social media after kicking away a hand grenade thrown at police.
Seriously wounded in the subsequent explosion, Theeradet underwent surgery that day on both legs.
Supachai praised the heroics by Theeradet and offered moral support to the returning officers, breaking down into “tears of sadness” for the trouble unarmed police have had to deal with at the hands of the self-proclaimed “peaceful” demonstrators.
Following the failed bridge operation, the Royal Thai Police Office slammed the CMPO for insisting officers be unarmed. The police demanded officers be equipped with rifles, shotguns and M79 grenade launchers.
“The government is using the police for more than they are paid for. Many of us have been killed and wounded,” the office said in a statement.
While no local officers has yet been killed in the months-long protest, Supachai said he would pay 50,000 baht to the family of any officer killed and 10,000 baht to any officer injured.