A man who died when police in Binh Dinh province chased him down after breaking up an illegal dice game succumbed from a lack of oxygen and not from foul play, according to a report by the local coroner.
Pham Dang Toan, who died under mysterious circumstances, was among a group of about 20 gamblers who were busted by police for playing an illegal game of bau cua ca cop in the Dinh Thien market in the province’s Phuong Quang village on Jan. 1.
When the police attempted to break up the game at about 10 p.m., Pham and the other gamblers made a break for it, according to a state media account of the death.
The 29-year-old truck driver died sometime in the aftermath of the raid and chase, but exactly what happened is a matter of dispute.
His uncle, Pham Hoang Hau, told Tuoitrenews that after the police caught Pham, they beat him until he lost consciousness, and he died on the way to the hospital.
The police account and the coroner’s report dispute that assertion.
According to the coroner’s report, Pham died from a lack of oxygen caused from running. According to the coroner, both his lungs and brain were discovered to have swollen due to the lack of oxygen.
Deaths from running are rare, and most medical studies of the phenomenon have found that they occur because of an underlying medical condition like heart disease and not from the exertion.
Senior Lieutenant Colonel Vo Quy Tuan, chief of staff of the municipal police department, told Tuoitrenews that a group of six officers in Tuy Phuoc District carried out the raid as part of a plan to ensure social order ahead of the Lunar New Year. After everyone fled, the officers discovered a man sitting unmoving in front of a nearby house.The man was later identified as Pham.
Video clips showing a group of angry local people forcing two police officers to apologize after Pham’s death were posted on Facebook, but they were soon taken down.
Nguyen Thi Tham, who recorded and posted video clips and later removed them from her Facebook page, apologized for posting the video, saying she spread fabricated information.
The deceased man’s brother, Pham Dang Tien, told RFA Toan was not much of a gambler, only wagering VND 10,000 ($0.44) to VND 20,000 ($0.88) on the popular Vietnamese dice game.
Bau cua ca cop is a popular three-die game played in Vietnam where sides of each die have an image of a fish, a prawn, a crab, a rooster, a calabash gourd, and a stag.
“The police rushed in and found that he has some money,” Pham Dang Tien said. “He ran away. They did do some autopsy work, and the provincial police said that they would look into this case, but I don’t know what will happen next.”
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.