Deputy Police Comish dismisses claims inmate assaults are due to shortage of TCF officers

Deputy Police Commissioner Vaimaga Maiava has dismissed claims that the reason for two recent alleged assaults of inmates by other inmates were due to shortage of Territorial Correctional Facility officers.

Police investigations into the two assault cases — which occurred within the last two and half weeks — have been completed and police reports submitted to the Attorney General’s Office.

There has been criticism against DPS with some members of the public claiming that the lack of manpower at TCF is the main reason the two inmates were assaulted recently and such claims were quickly dismissed by Maiava, who told Samoa News yesterday that the cause of fights among inmates is the differences between the prisoners inside TCF and has nothing to do with any alleged shortage of TCF officers on duty.

Maiava said there is no way officers would know first hand what’s in the mind of each inmate in order to prevent such fights. He says an inmate would keep all of the problems and conflicts piled up inside against another inmate, until the time the pair see each other and then trouble occurs.

He did acknowledge that DPS is looking at adding more officers to TCF personnel to further improve service at the jail.

Regarding the police investigations into the two separate inmate assault, Maiava said they’re completed and have since been forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office, which is responsible for filing charges.

The first incident occurred about two and half weeks ago in which the government charged current inmate, Sam Wright, and now former inmate Manu Lefatia, with one count each of third degree assault — a misdemeanor.  They are accused of assaulting Larry Samatua, according to court documents.

Lefatia was one of the four men accused in the November 2014 shooting of the Leone police substation, and they all pled guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to time served. He and two co-codefendants were released from custody on Dec. 6, while the 4th co-defendant remains in jail due to a separate drug case pending in court.

For the current assault charge, Lefatia is released on a $200 bond, while White remains behind bars serving a lengthy jail term for the robbery-with-a gun of a store in Fagaalu.

The second case occurred last Wednesday in which inmate Muaiga Siatui, aka Povi, alleges that he was assaulted by two inmates, who used a chair, causing his injuries to the right side of his head and right eye.  (See Samoa News edition on Monday for details.)

Because of the allegedly assault, the District Court has since ordered Siatiu to be held in custody at another DPS location instead of TCF. Maiava confirmed that DPS has complied with the court’s order and Siatiu is being held at a cell at the Central Police station in Fagatogo, where his family is allowed to visit.

And although Siatiu is accused of a serious crime, sexually assaulting a five-year old girl, Maiava said police are required to protect all inmates no matter the charges against them or conviction. Additionally, he says, inmates are all God’s people.

(Original Samoan story published in today’s Lali section of Samoa News)

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