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Accused in alleged 2021 police brutality incident appear in High Court

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The four police officers accused in an alleged police brutality case back in 2021 and charged in November last year appeared in the High Court, for their pre-trial conference yesterday.

This case is in connection to the alleged beating of a man who suffered severe injuries and was left unconscious at the market in May of 2021.

The criminal matter, which was held before Associate Justice Elvis Patea was continued.

The officers implicated are Police Captain Margie Alofaituli; Police Officers Faau Levi; Elleryquinn Histake and Dustin Maiava who are all released out on bond. 

Alofaituli is charged with forgery, criminal fraud and offering a false instrument for filing while officers Maiava, Histake and Levi are each charged with assault in the 1st- degree. 

Court filings say witnesses placed the three male officers at the scene.

Last year, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents were on island, regarding this case.

Police officers, who are not allowed to comment to the media, confirmed that the FBI agents were also looking into the alleged police brutality matter, which led to criminal charges against the police officers.

The officers are accused of beating the victim, who had allegedly assaulted his girlfriend. She contacted police and Officer Levi, who is alleged to be a close friend of the victim’s girlfriend, responded, going to the marketplace in Fagatogo, where the victim was hanging out. It’s alleged Levi punched the victim more than once, causing him to fall to the ground and lose consciousness.

The other officers who were present when the assault took place are also alleged to have had a role in the beating or hiding facts about the incident. The officers claimed that the victim resisted arrest and they had to use force to restrain him.

Text messages, which were part of the police investigation suggest that Captain Alofaituli knew or suspected that the victim sustained injuries at the hands of police officers.

Court filings state it was an alleged attempt on her part to cover up the incident, and there was an admission written in the report on the investigation of the alleged assault, which had the signature of another officer.

All four officers have been placed on “modified duties” or desk duties.