Police NSF's gunshot death a 'misadventure'

State Coroner Marvin Bay said forensic evidence pointed to Mr Gopi inflicting the fatal injury while "playing" with his revolver.
State Coroner Marvin Bay said forensic evidence pointed to Mr Gopi inflicting the fatal injury while "playing" with his revolver.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

He had been 'playing' with his revolver on duty: State Coroner

Bored with his overnight sentry duty, a 19-year-old full-time police national serviceman played with his service revolver, taking out four bullets from the five-chamber gun.

Shortly after, Special Constable Gopi Arivalakan was found dead with a single gunshot wound to his head inside the toilet of a static security post at an embassy in Tanglin.

State Coroner Marvin Bay yesterday said forensic evidence pointed to Mr Gopi inflicting the fatal injury while "playing" with his revolver, emptying four of the five loaded rounds and accidentally discharging the remaining round, during an "act of extreme risk-taking, rather than actual suicide". He found the young policeman's death to be an "unfortunate misadventure".

The coroner's court heard that Mr Gopi enlisted into national service on Nov 4, 2014, and was posted to Bukit Timah Neighbourhood Police Centre in April.

On May 26, he reported for his night shift duty, due to start at 8pm and end at 8am the next day.

He was issued with his service revolver, 10 rounds of ammunition, a pair of handcuffs and a T-baton at about 7.30pm.

Half an hour later, Mr Gopi and a colleague were sent to their separate static security posts, located on the same protected establishment.

During the night, colleagues visited Mr Gopi a few times. They also brought him food. He was seen to be his usual jovial and easy-going self, even laughing and smiling.

Two colleagues last saw him at about 6.30am.

Two minutes later, Mr Gopi told a friend via a text message: "So bored till playing with my revolver. (sic)"

Just before 7am, a cleaner tried to open the door of the security post, but could not. She later told Mr Gopi's colleague in the other post that it seemed to be unoccupied.

The colleague then went to check on Mr Gopi's post, but could only manage to nudge the toilet door slightly. He saw a pool of blood and requested assistance.

Paramedics who arrived at 7.40am pronounced Mr Gopi dead.

Four unexpended ammunition rounds were scattered on the floor of the toilet, while a spent cartridge was found inside a chamber of his revolver. The bullet was later found in the air-conditioning piping on the toilet ceiling.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2015, with the headline 'Police NSF's gunshot death a 'misadventure''. Print Edition | Subscribe