Authorities in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang said Nguyen Hoang Chanh, police chief of Chau Khanh Commune in Long Phu District, had fired gun shots in the air without provocation, and let his subordinates attack two motorists who did not wear helmets.
Crash helmets have been obligatory for motorists in Vietnam since December 2007.
News website VnExpress reported on Monday that the police turned rough after the motorists, one of them Chanh's in-law, complained that Chanh was unnecessarily pressuring his relative.
Huynh Van Mum, a relative of Chanh’s, asked him to let them go, but the request was rejected.
Their motorbike was seized by the police officers under Chanh’s orders. This prompted motorist Le Van Ut to tell Chanh that he would not be a police officer all his life, so he should be more careful about causing trouble for a relative.
This angered Chanh and he asked his subordinates to arrest the men.
“Chanh fired two shots into the sky. His subordinates kicked my leg. Then the police handcuffed me,” said Mum, who was hospitalized with damaged knee ligaments in his right leg.
Mum was only released to the hospital after local people gathered at the police office and expressed outrage that he was being kept in custody as his leg continued to swell.
It cost the 53-year-old VND50 million (US$25,000) for treatment at three different hospitals.
Thach Thal, head of the Long Phu District Party unit, told VnExpress that the two motorists were wrong not to wear helmets, but the commune police were even more wrong when they fired the shots and beat Mum.
The incident happened last November. Thal said further action in the case was deferred for nearly four months as local authorities wanted to let Mum and Chanh solve the matter between themselves as relatives.
Their failure to do so has forced authorities to take action, he said.
“For now, the district is just suspending Chanh. After investigators reach an official conclusion, we will punish him accordingly.”