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Man allegedly assaulted for not mowing his lawn

American Samoa District Court

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — On May 2, 2024, a concerned neighbor contacted the Tafuna Police Substation to report her neighbor who was allegedly assaulted by another male individual while mowing his lawn.

The defendant was apprehended and later charged with:

Count 1: Public Peace Disturbance, a class B misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for six months, a fine of $500, or both;

Count 2: Assault in the Third Degree (As a C Misd.), a class C misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to fifteen days, a fine of $300, or both; and,

Count 3: Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of $1,000, or both.

The defendant’s bail was set at $1,000.

According to the affidavit, at about 8:48 a.m, a concerned neighbor contacted TPS regarding a male individual later identified as Elia Autagavaia, who allegedly assaulted one of her neighbors who was mowing his lawn.

Police officers responded to the scene and upon arrival at about 9 a.m met with the neighbor and the victim where they briefed the officers about what happened. At the time the victim needed Emergency Medical Service (EMS) immediately because he had dislocated his left ankle. Officers requested an EMS unit to treat the victim’s injuries.

The neighbor pointed out the defendant who was walking towards the house and the officers immediately apprehended him and placed him inside the police unit.

Officers then interviewed the neighbor (witness) about the matter and according to her, she was inside her house next to the victim’s  house when she heard someone screaming.

At that time, she saw the defendant’s wife and one of the old ladies pulling the defendant towards their house and the victim was sitting where he had been mowing his lawn. When the defendant got to his house, he yelled towards the victim that he would “pull his throat out two times”.

The EMS unit arrived later and transported the victim to the LBJ hospital for further treatment, while the defendant was transported to TPS.

The affidavit stated that the victim suffered “a red rash on his head, right eye, and a dislocated left ankle.”

According to the victim, he was mowing his lawn in front of his house in the Peteli compound in Tafuna. Not long after, the defendant approached him asking why he didn’t mow his yard. The victim stated he told the defendant that was his job to do.

The defendant became upset and threatened to hit him in the head and challenged him to a fist fight. The victim explained that he took off his working boots and was shocked when the defendant punched him in the face and he fell to the ground where he dislocated his left ankle.

Moreover, the defendant continued punching him in his face until his daughter and a male individual stopped Autagavaia. The defendant then threatened him saying he would pull his throat out two times.

Elia Autagavaia was Mirandized and agreed to make a statement.

According to the defendant, at about 8:00 a.m he saw the victim mowing the Peteli compound but didn’t mow his front yard. He then walked over to the victim while he was mowing the lawn and asked the victim why he didn’t mow his front yard. The victim told him that it was his job to mow his own lawn.

The defendant admitted it stated a verbal altercation but he ignored it and walked back home. The defendant claimed that the victim ran towards him and threw the first punch but missed. He said that the victim kept throwing punches but he stretched his hands out to cover from the victim’s punches to his face until the victim fell down. At that time, the defendant stated he stood on top of the victim and punched him several times in the face. The defendant said his daughter then pulled him home and he admitted to verbally threatening the victim.

The defendant was booked and confined at the Tafuna Correctional Facility to await the next sitting of the District Court.

The defendant is identified as a 50 year-old citizen of Samoa.