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Taxi driver vs taxi driver — one gets arrested

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 42-year-old taxi driver from Tafuna who is accused of assaulting a fellow taxi driver was arrested by police two weeks ago.

Tuli Valaau made his initial appearance in District Court last week where he entered a not guilty plea to the charges against him. He is charged with 3rd degree assault, 2nd degree property damage, and public peace disturbance.

The defendant was released by the court on his own recognizance subject to usual conditions, including not having direct or indirect contact with the victim.

The government claims that it was on the afternoon of July 30, 2021 a man from Tafuna contacted police for assistance, regarding a man, who was being assaulted by another man in front of a store. Three police officers responded to the call.

The caller told police that the victim, who is a taxi driver was assaulted by his male friend, only known by the name, Tuli. Tuli was later identified as Tuli Valaau, the defendant in this matter.

The witness, who was standing next to the victim’s vehicle waiting for a bus, described the incident to police. According to the man’s statement to police, he knew Valaau very well because they used to work together at a construction company a few years back.

According to the witness, the defendant grabbed the victim by the neck and allegedly push the victim against his vehicle. As the victim tried to push the defendant away, the defendant allegedly punched the victim in the face twice causing the victim to fall to the ground. Valaau then allegedly kicked the victim multiples times in his chest and back, while the victim was lying on the ground.

Another eyewitness gave police a similar account: After a brief verbal argument, the defendant allegedly threw multiple punches at the victim’s face.

The victim told police he did not want to press charges against the defendant because he’s his best friend. The victim said the defendant was mad after he (victim) picked up passengers from a store in the Tafuna area and dropped them at a the Fagatogo market.

According to the victim’s statement to investigators, the defendant was supposed to pick up the passengers however, due to his high cost of service, the passengers decided to go with him instead of Valaau.

Valaau is scheduled to appear in court next month for his pretrial conference.