An American man has confessed to fighting an Australian who later died following a brawl in a Soi 6 bar, but claimed it was self-defense, police said.
Jose Manuel Polanco Jr., 43, surrendered to police Feb. 10 after learning that Benjamin Matthew Robb, 42, died of a brain hemorrhage at Pattaya Memorial Hospital about nine hours after the alcohol-fueled attack in the Ruby Club.
Police said Polanco claimed he was simply trying to break up a fight between a drunken Robb and bar hostess Rungarun Saensuwan, who Polanco said had been grabbed by the throat and lifted off the ground by Robb.
Witnesses said Polanco punched Robb in the face several times, knocking him to the ground. Robb died of his injuries at around 3:30 a.m. Feb. 10.
Polanco was charged initially with assault resulting in death, which carries a prison sentence of three to 15 years under the Criminal Code.
According to witness reports posted online, alcohol was the key factor in the fight, with both the Australian and Polanco’s group of friends so inebriated by 6:30 p.m. that Robb had fallen off his barstool several times and one of the Americans had vomited on his table.
Soi 6 bar mavens blistered Ruby Club management in an online forum for continuing to serve the drunks until violence broke out.
“Suddenly (Polanco) smashed (Robb) through the bar, gave him a couple of real bad fist hits in the face. Barstools (were) flying everywhere and I’m pretty sure some other customers and maybe even girls where hit,” one eyewitness wrote in the Pattaya Addicts forum.
Both the witness and Ruby Club management, in a statement released to Thai media, claimed the entire attack lasted 20 seconds. Two security guards reportedly were on duty but Australian media reported that security cameras inside Ruby Club were broken.
“An altercation lasting less than 20 seconds between two customers on Friday night resulted in one person taken to hospital with serious looking injuries, which sadly resulted in him passing away in the early hours of Saturday morning,” the club’s statement said. “”No other customer or staff member was injured during the incident.”
Polanco is being held without bail for up to 12 days at which time he will either be charged or prosecutors will apply to the court to have his stay extended.
Note: An Australia news source reports it is not Polanco’s first run-in with the law, or a murder charge. They wrote: As a minor, Polanco was convicted of second-degree murder for killing a man for being paid only US$20 to work on his car. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but served only two after the conviction was commuted to manslaughter with a firearm. He also has been charged, but not convicted, of carrying a concealed weapon and grand theft auto, Australia’s News.com.au reported.