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Ava ceremony leads way to reconciliation between village, family and police

Samoa Police for the first time set foot in the village of Faleatiu, following a police raid last month that turned deadly, claiming the life of a Faleatiu man and leaving three police officers severely injured.

Last week Friday, Samoa police officers led by Assistant Police Commissioner Leaupepe Fatu Pula, met with the family of Tagaloasa Filipaina, a convicted drug offender, who’s at the center of an investigation on allegations of illegal drug possession.

The gun exchange was the result of a drug raid by the Samoa Police Vice and Narcotic Unit that went horribly wrong last month, where gunfire broke out between police and Filipaina’s family members before the officers were able to execute a search warrant on the property of the family.

The three police officers who were injured have since recovered.

The meeting on Friday began with an ava ceremony which the Assistant Police Commissioner believed was a sign of reconciliation, harmony and forgiveness between the police officers and Filipaina’s family.

Leaupepe told Samoa News that this ceremony was the first official meeting between Filipaina’s family and the police.

He added that with this meeting the village chiefs (matai) and representatives of the family of Filipaina will allow the police officers to conduct their investigation pertaining to the shooting.  

Leaupepe noted that among those from Filipaina’s family who attended the meeting were High Chief of Faleatiu Talimatasi Setu, Ailepia Vaele Tuavale and Mugi Satuiolosega Mo’a, sister of Tagaloasa Filipaina

(Samoa News notes that Talimatasi Setu is the father of boxer David Tua.)

Samoa observer reported that when the Police vehicles entered Faleatiu village, standing tall at the back was Mugi, Filipaina’s sister. She told Samoa Observer that she wanted the officers to know they are safe and no one will harm them.

The Assistant Police Commissioner told Samoa News that when police arrived where the shooting took place last month, the officers were welcomed by Filipaina‘s family with open arms.

Police officers and the family shook hands, and the family allowed the officials to start their investigation.

In the meantime, three scientists from Environmental Scientists and Research (ESR) New Zealand are in Samoa according to the Assistant Police Commissioner. Leaupepe. He told Samoa News the scientists are there to assist the Samoa Police investigate the shooting at Faleatiu.

He added that the scientists will conduct their investigation first on the police vehicles in regards to bullet markings. Eventually the investigation will continue to Faleatiu where the incident occurred.

“A father of seven lost his life from the incident and the entire purpose of bringing the scientists to Samoa is to try and determine what happened,” Le’aupepe said.

He added that what happened was a real tragedy and the police are trying to get to the bottom of it.