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Man allegedly assaults paralyzed man, two DHS officers and a stop sign

American Samoa District Court building
Says he did it all because his mother insisted on taking him home

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 23-year-old male who has a pending criminal case in District Court was arrested by police last week on the allegation that he assaulted a 65-year-old paralyzed man and challenged several people to a fight.

When questioned by police, the defendant, Esau Lefiti said that the reason he did these things was because he was mad at his mother for trying to take him home when he didn’t want to go.

The government stated in its case that on May 10th, 2020 around 3:17a.m, two on duty officers from the American Samoa Department of Homeland Security (ASDHS) called the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) regarding a male individual who had passed out by the outside of the gate at their office headquarters in Tafuna and was now shouting profanities. He was also threatening the two officers and challenging them to a fight. The male individual was later identified as Lefiti, the defendant in this matter.

Several police officers responded to the call and met up with the two ASDHS officers who briefed them regarding the alleged incident. They told police that the defendant had walked toward the Tafuna-Ottoville area heading towards the Tradewinds Hotel.

Officers attempted to locate the defendant in the Tafuna-Ottoville area, but the defendant was nowhere to be found.

Officers returned to the area where the ASDHS is located and noticed a man, who is an employee of StarKist sitting at the bus stop across the road waiting for his bus to head to work. The employee told officers that he was waiting for his bus when he heard a male individual walking from Kristopher I Store area next to the ASDHS compound shouting profanities and also shouting Samoan war cries several times. When the defendant got near the bus stop where the employee was standing, the man punched the stop sign several times.

The defendant then turned around and saw two men (the ASDHS officers) standing inside the ASDHS compound and walked to its front gate and threatened the two, telling them to come outside and fight him. The defendant also kicked the gates.

A few moments later, the two other men walked over and tried to pull the defendant away from the gates and tried to calm him down. The defendant then walked back towards the Tafuna-Ottoville area.

The two ASDHS officers told the same story to police officers when they were interviewed regarding the matter.

As cops were looking for more witnesses, they observed a male standing in front of the Kristopher I Store, and later learned he was an older Asian man with his wife. Both the Asian man and his wife had a difficult time explaining to the officers what had happened.

He was able to tell officers that he sustained injuries just a few moments ago after a man punched him. He also showed his injuries to the officers and officers immediately contacted EMS personnel for assistance. The man sustained a scratch on his elbow and also bruises in his facial area.  

The owner of the Kristopher I Store  came outside and informed officers that the couple are his in-laws and they were doing their routine morning of exercise and picking up trash in front of the store parking lot. According to the storeowner, his father-in-law’s right leg and right hand are paralyzed and he has trouble walking around by himself, so he uses a cane.

When asked by officers, the victim stated that he was in front of the store picking up trash and suddenly a guy came at him and allegedly punched him in the face causing him to fall on the ground. The guy then walked over and kicked him in his back and side. The Asian man did not know why the guy had punched and kicked him.

Officers were able to review video footage from the Kristopher I Store security camera and got a clear view of what had happened.

The footage showed that two vehicles pulled up to the front of the parking lot of the store, and two individuals appeared on the footage, one of them was the defendant in this matter.

The defendant was standing in the store parking lot and he walked to the front portion of the store. The victim, was standing near the water vending machine. The defendant walked towards the victim and immediately punched him in the face causing him to fall down. He also kicked him in his back.

Officers identified the owner of one of the vehicles as the defendant’s mother and also were able to identify the location of the defendant’s house. Officers went to the house and met up with the mother, who told officers that her son (defendant) was sleeping.

Nevertheless, the defendant was transported to the TPS for further investigation. He told investigators that he did all of that because he was over excited and was mad at his mother because he wanted to go somewhere else while his mother was trying to take him home.

He admitted to police that he yelled profanities and threatened the two officers at the ASDHS. He also punched the stop sign near the ASDHS.

Lefiti made his initial appearance in court last Monday. He’s representing by Assistant Public Defender Bob Stuart while Assistant Attorney General Hanna Kim prosecuting the case.

Lefiti is charged with 2nd degree assault, a class D felony, along with two misdemeanor charges including attempted property damage and public peace disturbance (PPD).

Bail is set at $10,000.

Preliminary examination is set for Thursday next week, May 21st.