Thai police officer charged in Calgarian's death

A Calgary man who was shot to death in Thailand was defending her, a B.C. woman said from her hospital bed as Thai police charged one of their own in the incident.

A Calgary man who was shot to death in Thailand was defending her, a B.C. woman said from her hospital bed as Thai police charged one of their own in the incident.

Leo Del Pinto, shown in an undated family photo, died Sunday during a scuffle with a police officer in Thailand. ((Ross Fortune))

The officer was charged Monday with premeditated murder in the shooting death of Leo Del Pinto, 25, and the wounding of Carly Reisig, who is from Chilliwack, B.C.

Police said Del Pinto died early Sunday of two gunshot wounds — one to the face and one to the torso.

Police reported the pair had a fight while drinking at a bar. The fight escalated outside and turned physical when a police officer tried to intervene, said Col. Sombat Panya of Pai district in northern Mae Hong Son.

The officer involved, Sgt. Uthai Dechawiwat, told Thai investigators the pair attacked him when he tried to intervene, and that his gun "accidentally went off" three times as he tried to defend himself.

Victim says attack unprovoked

But in an interview with the Canadian Press on Monday, Reisig, 24, contradicted the official police version of events and also denied earlier reports that she was pregnant.

From her hospital bed in northern Thailand, Reisig denied there was any fight. She said she was talking to Del Pinto when a man punched her in the forehead.

She said Del Pinto defended her by shoving the man, who got a gun from his motorcycle. The two men struggled for control of the gun before the man shot them both, she said.

Reisig told a local reporter that she was visiting Del Pinto in Thailand, whom she called a good friend.

She added she believes the fact she was wearing face paint may have angered the man who attacked them.

Reisig is in stable condition with a bullet wound to her chest.

Del Pinto wanted to teach

"I think it is very frustrating because there is always the implications that Leo or any Canadians there are boorish tourists and that they are the ones that did something wrong but Leo loved that country," said Ross Fortune, who is engaged to one of Del Pinto's sisters.

"He was enchanted by Thailand," Fortune told CBC News.

Del Pinto spent almost six months in Thailand before returning to Calgary in September. He spent Christmas with his family and returned to Thailand just last week.

Del Pinto worked in a tattoo shop as a translator and wanted to teach English in the country, said Fortune.

Del Pinto's father, Ernie, said he's upset at reports the accused officer is not in custody and frustrated by the lack of detail in the case.

Foreign Affairs in Ottawa has released few details but said it has been in touch with Thai authorities.

With files from the Associated Press and the Canadian Press