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Assault during drinking session leads to drug bust

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of assaulting another man during a drinking session two months ago is now in custody after police allegedly found two small baggies and a glass pipe — both containing illegal drugs — in his possession.

Chris Niko made his initial appearance in District Court last month. He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth, a felony; and three misdemeanors: third degree assault; trespass; and disturbing the public peace.

Bail is set at $5,000.


On the night of Feb. 20, police were contacted by a businessman in Tafuna, reporting that one of his employees was being assaulted by a drunken man engaged in a drinking session with two others in front of his store.

When police arrived at the scene, a blue truck parked in front of the store sped off. Police were told by the business owner that the driver was the one who assaulted his employee.

The prosecution claims that earlier that evening, the blue truck had pulled up in front of the store and two men were inside. The two men parked and started drinking in the back of the truck.

They were identified as: the defendant, Chris Niko, 42, and a friend.

Two hours after the drinking session began, the two men started making loud noises and Niko allegedly threw an empty beer bottle in the store parking lot. A store employee came out and told the two men to leave the premises because they were not allowed to drink there.

A few moments later, Niko entered the store to buy more beer. On his way in, he saw the employee who had instructed them to leave. The man was cleaning the shelves.

Instead of buying beer, Niko walked over to the employee and allegedly punched him twice in the face, causing the man to fall down. Another employee jumped in to assist his co-worker. Niko ran out, jumped into his vehicle with his friend, and fled the scene before police arrived.

When questioned, the victim told police he was surprised when a huge man walked over to him and started throwing hard punches at his face. He said he didn’t remember how many blows he took because he was trying to cover his face after the first punch landed on his jaw, causing him to fall down, while the man continued to assault him.

Niko was apprehended by police at a restaurant in the Tafuna area, and transported to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) for questioning.

A body search netted two small baggies and a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance, in his pants pockets, the substance later tested positive as meth.

When asked about the drugs and pipe, Niko told police he found them in front of the Tafuna store during their drinking session. He later admitted that he assaulted a man at the same Tafuna store by punching and kicking his facial area and his back, because the man yelled profanities at him and his friend and made threats against them.