Court Report: Cases against 4 cops continued
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The government case against 4 police officers arrested and charged in an alleged beating at the Fagatogo market last year is now continued to Nov. 16 because none of the parties were ready to proceed with the case.
The four officers, Police Captain Margie Alofaituli, Off. Faau Levi, Off. Elleryquinn Histake and Off. Dustin Maiava who are all released on bond appeared before Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea this week for pretrial conference.
Alofaituli and Levi are represented by the Public Defender’s office while Maiava and Histake are represented by private attorneys.
When the case was called, defense attorneys informed the court they had not received discovery from the government, while the prosecutor said the government didn’t have the police report.
The court then continued the case until next month and advised all four defendants to stay in close contact with their attorneys and comply with all conditions of their releases on bond.
Alofaituli is charged with forgery, criminal fraud and offering a false instrument for filing, all class C felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 7 years, a fine of up to $5,000.
Bail is set at $15,000.
Off. Maiava, Off. Histake and Off. Levi are each charged with assault in the 1st- degree, a class B felony, punishable by a term of imprisonment from 5 to 15 years, one count of criminal fraud and offering a false instrument for filing, both class C felonies, along with one count of misconduct in the administration of Justice and false report, both class B misdemeanors.
Bail for Histake and Maiava are each set at $20,000 while Levi’s bail is set at $25,000.
An eyewitness and a relative of the victim said at the time that three police officers were responsible for the assault, which left the victim, Sitope Faalata, unconscious at the Fagatogo market on the night of May 10, 2021.
The officers are accused of beating the victim, who had allegedly assaulted his girlfriend on the night of May 8, last year.
After the girlfriend filed a complaint against her boyfriend at the central police station, Officer Levi, a close friend of the woman, is said to have gone to the marketplace in Fagatogo, where the victim was hanging out with others.
He’s accused of punching 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 Faalata sustained injuries at the hands of police officers.
Court filings suggest it was an attempt on her part to cover up the incident, and there was an admission that she wrote the report on the investigation of the alleged assault, which had the signature of another officer.
TWO MEN ARRESTED DURING A TRAFFIC STOP
Two men arrested last month during a traffic stop on the allegation that illegal drugs were found in their possession are now charged with violating local drug laws. Both men also had outstanding bench warrants for failing to appear in District court during their Probation Review hearings last year.
The driver, Kalapu Felise, and the passenger, Pita Anetone, made their initial appearances in District Court last month.
Felise is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony, while Anetone is charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, also a felony.
Bail for each man is set at $5,000 and the preliminary examination is next week.
On Aug. 16, patrolling police officers conducted a traffic stop on a pickup truck after it didn’t stop at a stop sign in Nu’uuli. The driver also was not wearing a seat belt when his vehicle was pulled over. It was later discovered that both the driver and the passenger had outstanding bench warrants.
According to the traffic officers, Kalapu Felise and Pita Anetone were in the truck, after it was stopped for the traffic violation, .
Felise did not produce a driver’s license when asked for one; but police were aware of an outstanding bench warrant in his name for failure to appear in court in October of last year. Police were also aware of a bench warrant for Anetone.
Both men were taken in for questioning. Prior to that, a patdown netted a clear glass pipe (commonly used to smoke meth) in Felise’s left pocket. The glass pipe contained a useable amount of a white crystalline substance.
During a body search of Anetone, police discovered a small baggie containing a green leafy substance in his right pocket.
The case was transferred to the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit from Traffic.
The white crystalline and green leafy substances were tested and the results were positive for meth and THC/ marijuana, respectively.
Felise and Aneetone refused to give statements to police. They both told police that they needed to speak to their attorney before they issued any statement regarding the incident.
A man accused of disturbing the public peace at his residence in Tafeta — being loud and throwing empty beer bottles at his neighbor’s yard — is now facing multiple charges, including meth possession.
Taulaga Aleki made his initial appearance in court last month. He’s charged with unlawful possession of meth, a felony; and three misdemeanors: trespass, third-degree assault, and PPD.
Bail is set at $5,000 and the preliminary hearing is next week.
On the night of Aug. 11, 2022, a man from Tafeta called police, reporting that his neighbor was drinking and making loud noises
When cops arrived, they spoke to the suspect and advised him to keep the noise down, in consideration of the elderly folks who live nearby. The suspect said he would, and the cops left. However, an hour later, the same caller contacted police again, to report the suspect and his friends were loud and yelling profanities at him and his family.
Upon arrival at the scene, the caller met with the cops and told them that when the police unit drove away from the suspect’s house following the initial visit that night, the suspect threw an empty beer bottle at the window of his room while he was trying to sleep, and as a result, some louvers were shattered.
When police approached the suspect, he yelled out to the caller, telling him he had no right to call authorities. He also said he was drinking on his land and nobody can tell him what to do.
Officers tried to calm the suspect down, while continuing to make threatening remarks. That’s when cops placed him under arrest. The suspect was later identified as Taulaga Aleki, the defendant in this matter.
During a standard body search, police felt a hard object in the suspect’s pants pocket. When asked what it was, the suspect responded, “It’s a pipe.” The glass pipe contained a white crystalline substance that later tested positive for meth. The suspect claimed he found the glass pipe lying on the road in front of his neighbor’s home and picked it up and placed it inside his pocket.
Officers smelled a strong odor of alcohol emitting from the defendant.
The Court is taking under advisement a motion from the government to revoke bail for Peniata Solomona. The prosecutor claims that Solo violated conditions of his release from a previous case filed last year.
On July 12, Solomona was arrested and charged in District Court with two misdemeanors: public peace disturbance and third degree assault. According to the government, Solomona was arrested after he allegedly assaulted his cousin during a birthday party at his home.
He was heavily intoxicated when police arrested him at his residence.
The prosecutor asked the court to revoke and forfeit Solomona’s bond.
The defense attorney said there isn't sufficient evidence from the government to prove its motion, and for that reason, it must be denied. The prosecutor fired back and said the government has a copy of the new complaint against Solomona, which can support its motion.
Solomona, who is out on a $10,000 surety bond, and has been ordered to comply with conditions of his release, especially the one requiring him to be law-abiding.
A man who allegedly assaulted a 17-year-old boy was arrested and charged. During his arrest, officers discovered drugs inside his pocket.
Faamanatu Etevise made his initial appearance in Court last month.
He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth, one count of abuse of a child, both felonies; along with one count of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of 3rd- degree assault, both class A misdemeanors.
Bail is set at $10,000.
On the afternoon of Aug. 24, 2022, the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) received a call from a woman reporting that her 17-year old son had been physically assaulted by their neighbor, Faamanatu Etevise, the defendant in this matter, at their residence in Mesepa. The caller also told police that her neighbor is on drugs.
Police arrived at the area and interviewed those involved in this matter, including the victim, his mother and a neighbor.
According to the victim’s statement to police, Etevise (defendant), his brother and the neighbor started yelling and swearing while tossing food and glass plates inside the kitchen after Etevise was unsatisfied with the food the victim’s brother had made.
The victim said that Etevise approached him and started to verbally and physically assault him by punching him facial area with a fist and pushed him.
The defendant then went into his room to grab a wooden baseball bat and verbally threatened to kill the victim using the baseball bat. The victim ran outside the house and saw the defendant walking towards the public road stating that when he came back, he was going to kill thim.
Police interviewed the neighbor about this matter where he stated that he had seen everything from outside and stated that the defendant physically assaulted the victim and made unreasonable noises — and this has been an ongoing thing.
The investigators were told that the defendant had left the house a few minutes before they had arrived at the scene and was heading towards the public road.
Officers then proceeded to leave the scene to locate the defendant. When approaching the public road, the defendant was observed sitting at a bus stop. The defendant was then placed in cuffs one hour after the incident and was transported to the TPS for further investigation.
Before the defendant was taken to the TPS for questioning, he was patted down for weapons and any drug paraphernalia. During a body search, officers discovered a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance inside his pants left pocket.
The white crystalline substance found inside the glass pipe was tested and yield a positive result for meth.
The defendant was Mirandized and made a statement.
According to the defendant’s verbal statement to investigators, he admits assaulting the victim out of anger. When questioned about the glass pipe containing meth, the defendant admits that the glass pipe belonged to him and he bought it from a drug dealer who sell drugs on the street.