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Dear Editor,

Sunday, Dec 17, 2017. 1a.m. (case on going, protecting her identity, this is her story).


According to Mrs. X, she won the $2,000 Leone Bingo Jackpot; and what began as an evening to go out ended up when a disgruntled taxi driver takes her unknowingly to Tafuna Substation and files a complaint against her while she is still sitting in the taxi.

Two police officers then approach her and ask her to step out of the taxi, while the taxi driver gets back in and drives off. What the taxi driver failed to inform them (DPS) was the argument they had was her refusal to pay the inflated fare he was demanding.

Mrs. X is taken in and haphazardly processed. She informs the officers she has over $1,700.00 cash in her purse. The female officer lightly rummages through the purse. During the course of waiting, Mrs. X was allowed to smoke and socialize with other police officers. She was never informed she is being detained, charged and arrested for PPD (being drunk and disorderly).

Knowing Mrs. X was being arrested and she has claimed to have a substantial amount of cash in her purse; the police however never Mirandized her or inventoried her personal effects.

Several hours later, two male officers arrive in a patrol vehicle. They handcuff Mrs. X, and lead her to the patrol vehicle to be transported to jail. Again, no-one informs her of why.

Upon arrival at TCF, Mrs. X is led into the office and again carelessly processed in the presence of several male inmates. As she is being informed that she will be placed in the women’s cell units, a male police officer reaches over to grab her arm, while the police woman takes her purse.

Panicking over her money, Mrs. X begins to struggle angrily and loudly informs them of the cash that is in her purse and she wants the contents inventoried and given a receipt before they lock her up.

While being ignored, the female officer removes her purse to the desk as she is forcibly led out by a police officer, flanked by two menacing male inmates — while she’s yelling about her money in her purse.

Sunday, Dec 17, 2017- 7 pm

While in the cell, two police women show up with her purse and a property inventory sheet for her to sign. All items are accounted for except for the amount of cash. What was documented was $740.30. She refuses to sign the sheet and only signs to take a pack of cigarettes (5 sticks). The two police women depart with her purse.

Dec. 18, 2017

The court proceedings is short. She pleas ‘not guilty’ and she is released, with a continuance case set for Jan 9, 2018.

After unsuccessfully seeking assistance from several attorney offices to help retrieve her property from TCF, she reluctantly returns in a taxi and signs for belongings in the presence of the taxi driver. She is informed by the police only an attorney can pick up the signed receipt.

Jan. 24, 2018

After several failed attempts and finally with the Governor’s Office’s intervention, Mrs. X is able to obtain an appointment to meet with Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson. Deputy Commissioner Falanaipupu Taase Sagapolutele and Commander Foifua are both present when the meeting happens.

 During the meeting, a copy of a 9-page police report is given to them — recording her ordeal and missing money.  According to their calculations a balance of $1,030.00 was accounted for — not the “$740.30”, nor the “over $1,700” Mrs. X says was in her purse before she was arrested.

She is promised an investigation will be launched.

Mar. 19, 2018 

Detective Malua finally calls that he is the assigned investigating officer.

Mrs. X has had 7 continuous cases in 2018: Jan. 09, Feb. 01, Mar. 01, Mar. 20, Apr. 12, June 07, June 15, and June 06.

She believes she is being cornered to take a guilty bargain — where she pays the fine and she will have no probation time for the PPD. A plea she is refusing to take!

 In the meantime, the Police Commissioner and Public Defender A know of the stolen money but are still waiting for a police report?

Does the burden of proof fall on the victim or on the failure of the arresting officer(s) and their lack of policy enforcement to be held accountable for a liability situation?

When a government agency lacks integrity through poor job performance; it’s from either lack of education, training, supervision or pure corruption.

Inebriated victims with cash are thought to be easy victims to exploit or taken advantage of. It appears the presence of a substantial amount of cash and its disappearance is hiding behind the PPD police report prompting this long drawn out merry-go-round of seeking justice.

It is unfortunate the Public Defender himself is reluctant to peek deeper behind the PPD accusations or refer Mrs. X’s case without her being penalized.

All Mrs. X wants is her property to be accounted for and returned after the legal proceedings are satisfied. More curious is, there is no statement or mention of the illusive taxi driver that set off the entire chain of events?

It’s a sad practice that victims of whatever circumstance have to find a way to be heard, fight for their principles and decry the violations of their human rights from the very system that is supposed to protect them.

Where does the victim turn for assistance when it’s difficult to make it through the legal system, manipulated by so many powerful unscrupulous persons.

Ipu Avegalio Lefiti

Victim Advocate