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Taxi drivers mix it up, one gets arrested

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 56-year-old taxi driver from Fagaalu who is accused of assaulting a fellow taxi driver was arrested over the weekend.

Faalemiga Valaau made his initial appearance in District Court this 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.

Valaau is represented by Assistant Public Defender, Ryan Anderson while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General, Laura Garvey.

The defendant was released by Judge Fiti Sunia on his own recognizance subject to certain conditions — to remain law abiding, make all of his court appearances, and not to have direct or indirect contact with the victim.

The government claims that it was around 6:12p.m last Friday when a woman from Nuuuli contacted police for assistance, regarding her husband, who was being assaulted by another man. Three police officers responded to the call.

The caller, who was later identified as the victim's wife, told police that her husband was assaulted by his male friend, “Miga”, later identified as Faalemiga.

The wife told police that her husband was inside their vehicle - parked in front of a store in Nuuuli - while she was inside shopping. She said she came outside and noticed her husband standing outside of their vehicle with several people surrounding him, and he was bleeding from his mouth and nose.

She said she asked her husband what happened but he refused to tell her. It was another male who was standing with her husband who told her that it was the defendant.

An eyewitness told police he did not understand how the fight escalated. All he saw was, after a brief verbal argument, the defendant allegedly threw multiple punches at the victim’s face.

The victim refused to explain to police what happened. He said he did not want to press charges against the defendant because he’s his best friend. However, the victim’s wife told police she wants her husband’s friend to be charged.