Police discover outstanding warrant after man arrested for PPD
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man with an outstanding arrest warrant was taken into custody last month after police picked him up for a public peace disturbance (PPD) matter in Tafuna.
Ieremia Opetaia, 35, who has a previous assault conviction from 2014. made his initial appearance in court last month.
Opetaia is charged with second-degree assault and unlawful possession of marijuana, both felonies; and two misdemeanors — PPD and third degree assault.
Bail is set at $5,000.
Cops responded to a public peace disturbance in Tafeta, after a young woman contacted police for assistance, regarding an intoxicated man yelling profanities at her father.
Police arrived and spoke to the caller who told them that it was around 6:21p.m when she called her father to pick her up, along with her children, in front of an abandoned home in the area. A few moments later, her father showed up and parked at the front side of a house across from the abandoned house.
As her father was about to exit his vehicle, a black truck pulled up and scratched the back side of the vehicle her father was driving. Her father exited his vehicle and walked over to speak to the driver of the truck.
As her father was approaching the driver, a man who was later identified as the defendant exited the driver’s side of the black truck, walked towards her father, and immediately punched him in the face and yelled, “This is not your land.”
According to the witness, her father did not throw any punches; instead, he stood up and ran back to where his vehicle was parked, while the defendant followed him. Another man who was walking on the road at the time of the alleged incident jumped in and stopped the defendant from striking the victim again.
Immediately afterwards, the defendant jumped in his vehicle and tried to leave the scene. However, the man, who had jumped in to help, turned around and grabbed the defendant’s shirt and told him not to flee from the police officers who were on their way to the scene.
Cops apprehended Opetaia outside of his truck, and transported him to the Tafuna Police Station (TPS) for questioning. When asked by police, Opetaia admitted that he assaulted the victim for parking his vehicle in front of his uncle’s house. He said the accident was the victim’s fault. Opetaia further told cops two days prior to the incident, he parked his vehicle in front of the same abandoned house when the victim came and parked his vehicle on the other side of his vehicle.
But when he instructed the victim to leave the land, the victim turned around and grabbed his neck and told him that he will kill him and his family if he bothered him again.
It was revealed during Opetaia’s interview with police that he has an outstanding arrest warrant from another assault case, where he is alleged to have assaulted a man by using a rock to strike his head.
THE OUTSTANDING WARRANT
On May 31st, 2019, a woman contacted the TPS for help, after her husband was assaulted by a man, who worked as a grounds man for a family next to their house in Tafuna.
When police arrived, the woman told them that her husband had arrived from Hawaii two weeks earlier, and on the day of the alleged incident, her husband was working outside in his yard while Opetaia and four young men were doing a clean up at a family house next door.
According to the woman’s statement, Opetaia and the four men were drinking during their clean up.
Opetaia is believed to have called out to the victim asking him to buy more beer for him as he looked like he had just come from off island. The victim gave Opetaia and his four friends three cans of beer from his refrigerator. However, apparently Opetaia didn’t appreciate the free beer by making fun of him and told him, “You just came from off island and you can only afford to give us three cans of beer?”
The victim became angry and allegedly yelled out profane words to Opetaia and told him that he should be thankful for the free stuff he received from someone he doesn’t know. Furthermore, the victim told Opetaia that only a coward acted like that.
While the victim was standing in front of his vehicle, which was parked outside of his house, Opetaia walked over to him and hit him on the back of the head with a rock, causing the victim to fall down. While the victim was on the ground, Opetaia allegedly kicked his back twice before leaving the scene.
After police obtained a warrant from the court to arrest Opetaia, he was nowhere to be found. The owner of the house he worked for told police he hadn’t heard from Opetaia since the alleged incident.
Video footage of the incident recorded by the nearby store’s surveillance camera was obtained by police, and it confirmed Opetaia’s involvement.
On June 10, 2014, Opetaia was sentenced to 20 months detention at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), as a condition of his 5-year probation sentence, after pleading guilty to the amended charge of second-degree assault, under a plea agreement with the government.
The government says Opetaia assaulted a man during a drinking session by stabbing him on the back and shoulder with a kitchen knife.