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Cops called after taxi drivers fight over who gets the passenger

American Samoa DIistrict Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 42-year-old taxi driver from Tafuna who is accused of assaulting a fellow taxi driver was arrested by police two weeks ago.

Fitu Valiano made his initial appearance in District Court last month 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 usual conditions, including not having direct or indirect contact with the victim.

The government claims that it was on the afternoon of May 22, 2021 a man from Tafuna contacted police for assistance, regarding a man, who was being assaulted by another man in front of an Asian store. Three police officers responded to the call.

The caller told police that the victim, who is a taxi driver was assaulted by his male friend, only known by the name, Vali. Vali was later identified as Fitu Valiano, the defendant in this matter.

The man told police that the victim was in his vehicle, parked in front of a store in Tafuna, while he was standing next to the victim’s vehicle waiting for a bus, when another taxi pulled up and parked next to the victim’s vehicle.

According to the man’s statement to police, he knew Valiano well because they used to work together at a construction company a few years back.

He said he was shocked when he saw the defendant exit his vehicle, walk to where the victim was standing, grab the victim by the neck and allegedly push the victim against his vehicle.

As the victim tried to push the defendant away, the defendant allegedly punched the victim in the face twice causing the victim to fall to the ground. Valiano then allegedly kicked the victim multiple times in his chest and back, while the victim was still lying on the ground.

Another eyewitness 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 a hotel in the Tafuna area and dropped them at a hotel in Utulei.

According to the victim’s statement, Valiano was supposed to pick up the passengers, however, due to what Valiano was charging, the passengers decided to go with him instead.

Valiano is scheduled to appear in court next month for his pretrial conference.