Man detained for speeding and drugs allegedly picks a fight with cops
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who is on probation for stealing and burglary is now in custody when police allegedly found illegal drugs inside his vehicle during a traffic stop last month.
Talavani Ualesi made his initial appearance in court last month.
He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana and one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, both unclassified felonies, one count of resisting arrest, a class D felony, along with several traffic citations.
Bail is set at $10,000.
The government claims that in the early morning of May 21, 2020 two officers who were patrolling the Tafuna area pulled over a speeding vehicle heading east.
Officers observed the vehicle swerving and overtaking vehicles as it took a wide turn into the Iliili road.
Cops stopped the vehicle in front of an Asian store and the driver, later identified as Talavani Ualesi, did not have a driver’s license or any kind of identification. Ualesi told officers to come with him to his house where he had his photo ID and his expired driver’s license.
After finding out that there was no record of a driver’s license for Ualesi, officers informed the suspect that he was about to be detained. At that time, Ualesi changed his demeanor and started to resist by turning on his vehicle’s engine in an effort to leave the scene.
Officers instructed Ualesi to turn off his vehicle but Ualesi told officers that he did not violate any traffic laws and he wanted to go home to take his sick father to the hospital. As Ualesi was speaking, officers saw him try to reach into his rear pocket.
Officers asked Ualesi if he had any illegal things in his possession, Ualesi, in a loud voice responded to officers by saying, “You need a search warrant from the court to search me.”
It was then that Ualesi tried to move his vehicle and told officers that he was in a hurry and had to rush home because his sick father needed to see his doctor in the afternoon. Officers told the suspect that he needed to calm down while they do their job; however, the suspect kept telling them that he needed to go home.
While cops were trying to apprehend the suspect, he resisted and started a scuffle. Officers tried to pull the suspect out of the vehicle, but the suspect allegedly punched one of the officers in the eye and then tried to close the door while cops were still trying to pull him out.
While one of the officers was holding on to one of the suspect’s arms, the officer slipped and lost his balance, and that’s when the suspect kicked him. The suspect kicked again and hit the officer’s chest.
The scuffle continued but cops were able to handcuff Ualesi and transport him to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS). The suspect’s vehicle was impounded. During inventory of the vehicle, police found a small pouch attached to the keychain.
When asked what was inside the pouch, the suspect shook his head and said, “nothing, it’s just a black pouch.”
Officers asked the suspect for consent to open the pouch and the suspect agreed saying, “Go ahead and open it, there’s nothing inside. What are you looking for?”
Upon unzipping the pouch, cops discovered a small stamp sized baggie with a white crystalline substance inside. Officers also found a hand rolled marijuana joint inside Ualesi’s pocket.
A more thorough search of the vehicle netted a backpack behind the driver’s seat. The backpack was a see-through and officers saw a small glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth.
When asked about the backpack, the suspect said he didn’t know anything about the backpack, or who owns it. In the backpack, however, police found another small glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance; a clear plastic ziplock bag containing a green leafy substance consistent with marijuana, and several other small stamp sized baggies.
After reading the suspect his constitutional rights, Ualesi agreed to speak to officers regarding drugs that were found in his possession.
According to Ualesi’s statement to police, he’s not a drug dealer but he uses drugs for himself when ever he needs it. He did not tell police where he got the drugs. He only stated that he’s a hard working man on his plantation and most of the time he used drugs to give him strength to do his work, especially on a sunny day.
The white crystalline substance tested positive for meth while the green leafy substance tested positive for marijuana.
In the beginning of 2016, Ualesi was arrested and charged with burglarizing a home in Leone and stealing several personal items from inside the house. He was charged with 2nd degree burglary and stealing.
Ualesi pled guilty to stealing and was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. Execution of sentenced ws suspended and he was placed on probation for 7 years subject to several conditions, including serving 28 months in jail, remaining law abiding and paying restitution in the amount of $850.