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Bus driver vs bus driver — assault charges

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A bus driver from Tafeta who is accused of assaulting a fellow bus driver was arrested by police last week. Malaki Vala made his initial appearance in District Court last week where he entered a not guilty plea to the charges against him. He is charged with 3rd degree assault, 2nd degree property damage, and public peace disturbance.

The defendant was released by the court on his own recognizance subject to the usual conditions, including not having direct or indirect contact with the victim.

The government claims that it was around 8:12p.m on Nov. 24th when a woman contacted police for assistance, regarding a man, who was being assaulted by another man at the Lions Park area in Tafuna. Three police officers responded to the call.

The caller further told police that the victim, who is a bus driver was assaulted by another male individual, who is also a bus driver. The woman told police that the victim was inside his aiga bus, parked at the Lions Park area while her vehicle was parked next to the victim’s bus. The victim exited his bus and walked under a tree to smoke a cigarette while talking on his phone.

A few moments later, another aiga bus pulled over and parked next to the victim’s vehicle and the woman recognized the driver of the bus, as Malaki Vala, the defendant in this matter, as they used to work together in the government.

She was shocked when she saw Vala exit his bus, walk to where the victim was standing, grab the victim by the neck and allegedly push the victim against his bus.

As the victim tried to push the defendant away, she said that is when the defendant allegedly punched the victim in the face twice, causing the victim to fall to the ground.

Another eyewitness who was inside the victim’s bus told police all he saw was, after a brief verbal argument, the defendant allegedly threw multiple punches at the victim’s face.

The victim told police he did not want to press charges against the defendant because he’s his best friend. The victim said the defendant was mad after he (victim) picked up passengers from the cannery the defendant was supposed to pick up.