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Five arrested after two off-duty police officers allegedly assaulted over the weekend

American Samoa District Court

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Five individuals were arrested over the weekend after attacking two off-duty officers at the McDonald’s in Tafuna after a night of out at the Bowling Alley. 

According to court documents, at about 3:05 AM on July 9, 2023, Central Station relayed information to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) about a fight that had broke out at McDonald’s.

According to a witness that was present at the time of the altercation, one of the five individuals was holding a rock and about to attack two male individuals that the eye-witness believed were off-duty cops. In addition the witness stated that whatever accusations the rowdy individuals were making were all false because he did not hear the off-duty cops make any threatening remarks.

Upon arrival at the scene, responding officers met with the off-duty cops, later identified as Vegas Pearson and Seugalupe Leone, and Pearson provided his account of what happened. 

Pearson states that while at Bowling Alley with his friends, an individual, later identified as Anitele’a Tuilagi, approached him and asked if he was a cop, to which Pearson said ‘yes’. Tuilagi then asked the off-duty cop, “Kua ulavale a o oe a?” to which Pearson replied that “it’s up to him.” 

He then saw about four individuals surrounding him when a friend of his pulled him inside the club in an attempt to avoid trouble.

After the last call at the bar, they proceeded to McDonald’s to grab some food. Pearson stated that after parking, he went to greet some friends in the parking lot while his friend went in to order food. He was then approached by the same individuals aggressively — and that’s when the fight broke out. 

Pearson went on to state that they were pinned between two cars when the group of individuals started attacking him and Leone in the parking lot. Pearson said they tried to defend themselves, as they were outnumbered, and also attempted to remove themselves from the area but the individuals pursued them and landed a punch on his back and head. 

Bystanders intervened when they noticed that another one of the individuals with a mohawk hair style, identified as Sosaiete La’asaga, was holding rocks in both of his hands attempting to throw them at the off-duty cops, but was pulled back by bystanders. 

The other off-duty cop involved in the incident, Leone, basically reiterated Pearson’s account, starting at the bar when they avoided a confrontation with the same men they later had the altercation with at McDonald’s, which involved both Pearson and himself fighting 5 other men.

The individuals were identified as Fa’amanu Malivao, Sosaiete La’asaga, Tony Fatu Toma, Filipo Atonio and Anitele’a Tuilagi. 

According to court documents, Malivao allegedly threw the first punch and that’s when the other four individuals allegedly took the opportunity to assault Leone and Pearson, with Leone receiving minor scratches to his left eye and cheek as well as minor scratches on the right side of his neck and under his neck. Both Leone and Pearson refused medical attention. 

When officers had arrived at McDonald’s, the individual’s had fled the scene, but officers later located their vehicles at the Silva Compound in Tafuna.

Officers canvassed the premises twice, and succeeded in finding the five men when they returned to canvass the area a second time. At the time, officers observed two individuals sitting outside the building while the other three went inside the building and locked the doors. 

At 4:44 AM, officers apprehended Malivao and La’asaga who were placed inside patrol units and transported them to the TPS for further investigation. 

At TPS , Malivao said that Tuilagi was the reason they went to McDonald’s because he was upset from the first confrontation with Pearson. Both individuals were identified by Pearson and Leone as two of the individuals that allegedly assaulted them. 

Officers then returned to the Silva Compound again at 5:26 AM and apprehended Toma and Atonio who were then taken to the TPS. The off-duty officers identified them as well.

Toma claimed he did not know what happened because he was sleeping and was not present at McDonald’s and Atonio claims he had no knowledge of the incident that had occurred. 

At 6:43 AM, officers proceeded to the Silva Compound yet again and this time located Tuilagi and transported him to the TPS as well. Tuilagi was Mirandized and provided a statement, saying he did not know what happened and that he was approached at the Bowling Alley by Pearson. 

Tuilagi then stated that when they went to McDonald’s, that’s when they saw Pearson again and all of the sudden, they were fighting, but he refused to provide a written statement.

Tuilagi was booked and confined at TCF along with the other 4 individuals and they had their initial court appearances yesterday, July 10, 2023. 

Anitele’a Tuilagi, Tony Fatu Toma, and Filipo Atonio are all being charged with one count of public peace disturbance and bail is set at $300 for each man.

Sosaiete La’asaga and Fa’amanu Malivao are each being charged with two counts – one count of public peace disturbance and one for assault in the third degree. However, bail amounts differ for each man — $600 for La’asaga and $500 for Malivao.