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Bar fight leads to an off-duty cop being beaten unconscious

American Samoa District Court

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — On October 28, 2023 at 02:08 AM, a fight broke out at the Bowling Alley Flames Bar in Tafuna, where 3 men allege that they were assaulted by the Flames security detail and their employer. When officers responded to the call at the Flames Bar, they observed an individual lying motionless outside near the entrance of the bar.

According to the affidavit, police officers obtained proper identification and proceeded to provide assistance and carried the motionless person into a police unit. The man was then given medical attention by the EMS in Tafuna, before he was transported to the LBJ hospital, where he was admitted and treated. At the time of the report, there was no updates of his medical status. Photos were taken of his injuries.

Upon regaining consciousness, the alleged victim was interviewed by officers. He was identified as Aliitia Tauvela, who is also a Department of Public Safety police officer and was off-duty at the time of the incident.

According to the affidavit, per the victim, he told officers that he was outside with a friend (Mitchel Tuiolemotu) when one of the defendants, identified as Frank Seko, approached them and asked them both who struck his truck. The victim says that Seko then punched his friend, and he intervened to break up the altercation, but he said that Seko “came up behind him and slammed him onto the ground” — “that was the last thing he remembered.”

At the Flames Bar in Tafuna, the officers that had spoken to Tauvela were granted access to view footage of how the altercation broke out, by Seko and his wife. “Seko identified each person on [sic] the footage and how the fight broke out.”

According to Seko, who is co-owner of the club, it started between another individual known as Petaia Chang, aka “Dice” who allegedly punched Daniel Palemia, a security guard at the bar, in the face. Per Seko, the situation escalated when additional security came to separate the two.

Seko told officers that the situation worsened when others became involved in the fight, as Sa Sione fell down onto Chang, while attempting to separate Chang and Palemia, which led to an individual identified as Apela Solofa becoming involved as he thought security was beating up Chang. That’s when another Flames security guard, Fred Crichton punched Solofa “in the face trying to separate him from Sione.” The fight continued until they got outside of the bar towards the smoking area.

“Chang was removed from the bar through the Sports Bar,” according to the affidavit.

Testimony from Seko, stated that another fight was going on outside of the nightclub, “where the Flames securities [sic] were trying to prevent” Tuiolemotu and Tauvela from entering the bar. The affidavit identifies the two men as cousins of Solofa, and were “trying to rescue their cousin from the beating of the securities.”

He said Solofa was taken outside, and while being taken out, “he called out to the securities that he will get his gun and shoot them.” Seko further stated that Tuiolemotu took out a knife and waved it around at the security, “but did not use it on anyone.” They were both chased away and were not allowed to enter the bar.

Seko further told police during his interview at the Flames Bar that he “ran outside after hearing the loud bang assuming that his truck was damaged.” He found Tuilolemotu and Tauvele near his vehicle in the garage, and he asked them who struck his vehicle, and that’s when Tauvela allegedly “punched him, but missed.”

Tuilolemotu was interviewed at his residence in Aoloau. He told officers that the fight started from inside the bar, but he was unaware of anything because he was outside with Tauvela. He confirmed it was when he saw Solofa getting beat up by the Flames Bar security that he tried to enter the bar, but he was kept outside by security.

He also said he “heard a loud bang from where he was standing, then Seko approached him and Tauvela outside asking who hit his truck. “He tried telling Seko that he didn’t know, but Seko punched him in the face.”

Officers spoke to Fred Crichton, one of the security people at the Flames Bar, who stated that “they” — security — “saw Seko being involved in the fight,” [and] his employees (all securities) including Crichton, Sa Sione, Samoa Fepulea’i, To’o Peno and Natia Natia Jr. aka ‘Skinna’ (ex-employee of Flames Bar) “intervened and assisted Seko to beat up Tauvela and his cousins.”

Crichton said that Tuiolemotu managed to get away, but they continued to beat Tauvela, and he “continued beating on Tauvela because Seko was assaulted by him.” Footage of of the fight that went viral on facebook showed Crichton kicking Tauvele in the face about 3- 4 times, the affidavit says. It also shows Seko kicking Tauvela in the face. Crichton further told police when asked, that it was Skinna who was the last person to kick and punch Tauvele in the face while unconscious.

DPS conducted separate interviews of all Flames security and their employer and according to the affidavit, they “felt remorse and regretted what happened; that it should have never gone that far of what they did.”

The head of security Flames Bar, Sarong Vaioge was interviewed at the Fagatogo Station, where she stated “she was present the entire time all these fights went down.” She said she was involved in trying to break up the fight between Chang and Palemia, and also saw the fighting outside in the parking lot and that that it was in the rain. “It was raining so hard that she could not identify who assaulted who.”

The affidavit states that several of the female waitresses, including Vaioge tried to “block off the securities from hurting Tauvela any further. After beating Tauvela to where Tauvela was unconscious they left him outside in the rain near the entrance of the Flames Bar until the police arrived at the scene.”

Palemia in his interview at TPS, said he saw Tauvela punch Seko in the face after he asked about his truck.

Natia Natia Jr., is still at large, and cannot be located to date.

After conducting interviews of all involved and reviewing one final footage taken from the smoking area of the Flames bar, officers saw that each security employee walked into the smoking area after “assaulting” the victims.

Frank Seko, Fred Crichton, Samoa Fepulea’i, Peno To’o, and Sa Sione with the exception of Natia Natia Jr. have all been arraigned and have had their preliminary examinations. All six defendants are currently facing two charges each of assault in the second and third degree. All defendants have been ordered to pay a bail of $6,000 each.

Frank Seko, and Natia Natia Jr. are US Nationals.

Fred Crichton, Samoa Fepulea’i, Sa Sione, and Peno To’o are Samoa citizens.