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Defendant accuses alleged assault victim of stealing his shopping

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man was arrested by police two weeks ago for allegedly assaulting a man who allegedly attempted to break into his vehicle parked in front of an Asian store in the Tafuna area.

Tofiga Asalele made his initial appearance in court two weeks ago. He is charged with 3rd degree assault; public peace disturbance and property damage in the 3rd degree — all misdemeanors.

Asalele is now released on his own recognizance while awaiting his next court appearance, which is scheduled for Dec. 11th, 2020 at 8:30a.m.

According to the government’s case, a woman contacted the TPS for assistance after a man assaulted another young male in front of an Asian store in the Malaeimi area.

Several police officers responded to the call and observed a crowd of people gathering in front of the store. As officers approached the crowd, they observed a young male standing at the corner of the store holding a metal pipe in his left hand and blood covered his facial area. The man was later identified as the victim in this case.

On the other side of the store where the crowd of people were gathered, police observed a three males trying to hold back a man, who was later identified as Tofiga Asalele, the defendant in this matter. The victim was transported by EMS to the LBJ Hospital for further treatment after police examined his injuries, while the defendant was placed inside the police unit for his own safety.

Officers interviewed some of the witnesses of the alleged incident.

The first witness told police that the two men involved in this incident were both inside the store. It was when the defendant exited the store and put his shopping inside his vehicle and walked back into the store that the victim ran towards Asalele’s vehicle and opened the back door and quickly grabbed a shopping bag full of items.

The defendant saw what happened and he immediately ran out to his vehicle and allegedly grabbed the victim’s shoulder and pushed him away while the victim was still holding the bag in his right hand.

After a brief confrontation between the two men, the defendant punched the victim in the face causing him to fall. The defendant then kicked the victim’s back and leg while he was on the ground. Asalele also damaged the victim’s cell phone.

A crowd of people immediately rushed to the scene and were able to pull the defendant away.

Three other witnesses were questioned by police regarding the alleged incident, and they all confirmed the incident. One witness told police that the victim also threatened to kill the defendant by shooting him after he was assaulted by the defendant.

When questioned by police regarding the alleged incident, the defendant admitted to the incident and immediately apologized for his actions.

Asalele confirmed to police the witnesses’ accounts of the incident, including explaining that the victim turned around and threw a punch, which hit his chest. That’s when he turned around and punched the victim in the face causing him to fall, and out of anger, he also kicked the victim in the back and his leg while he was lying on the ground.

It’s not clear at this time whether the government is going to prosecute the victim for attempted stealing.

The defendant was later transported to the TCF where he was booked and detained to await the next sitting of the court.