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Plot thickens in latest misconduct allegation at Juvie Detention

Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson [SN file photo]
Le’I talks one-on-one with Samoa News reporter

Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson told Samoa News that DPS is treating the alleged misconduct case involving a male DPS officer assigned to the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) seriously, and he will do everything in his power to make sure the person or persons involved face prosecution.

“This is not a case that we’re taking lightly, no, it’s a serious case and it included a serious life threat,” said Le’i during a one-on-one interview with Samoa News at his office yesterday morning.

The incident happened around October of last year, when a male police officer at the JDC allegedly allowed a male detainee to leave the JDC in the middle of the night. The detainee is a 17-year-old male, who was also one of the key witnesses in a previous matter that was filed in District Court on April 2017, where four DPS officers assigned to JDC in Tafuna have been charged with various crimes.

Samoa News was unable to obtain a comment from the Commissioner earlier this week when he was asked about this case. Yesterday morning, the Commissioner was available for an interview after he was briefed on the matter and he commented about the case and the ongoing investigation.

Le’i confirmed to Samoa News that the mother of the detainee came to his office to see him last month, instead he instructed her to go and see his Deputy Commissioner Falana’ipupu Taase Sagapolutele.

“Everything pertaining to investigations has to go to the Deputy Commissioner’s office, they are the ones who prepare the investigation and make the final report that is forwarded to my office for my review,” said Le’i.

The police commish said that he had not been informed about the details of the case at the JDC. “All I was told was that, there is an investigation, in regards to alleged misconduct at the JDC. I was never briefed about the details of the case. After hearing a lot of information about this case this morning (yesterday morning), it seems to me that DPS will not take this case lightly, it’s a serious allegation which involves serious death threats that we need to look into very quickly.”

Le’i mentioned to Samoa News the name of the male police officer who is in the center of all the allegations at the JDC.

“CID (Criminal Investigating Division) is working on the case right now. I was told that their investigation is still continuing, and they need to interview more witnesses about what allegedly happen. Once the investigation is complete, then a report will be filed to my office and I will get a chance to look at the report and review it,” said Le’i.

“I just want to let the public know that once the investigation is complete, I will make the final call. Everyone involved in this alleged case will be prosecuted and will be brought to justice according to the law. Whether you’re a police officer or a citizen of this country, you will face consequences for your actions. These types of actions will not be tolerated, and I again assure the public that DPS will get to the bottom of this case as soon as possible.”

Samoa News understands that the police officer has been transferred from the JDC to the TCF.

Sources told Samoa News that the detainee in this case will be turning 18 years old today, and he will be released from JDC today. Because he is one of the key witnesses in the matter that was filed in District Court in April 2017, his family told Samoa News that they have received threats, including death threats from members of the community, including family members of the four police officers who are charged in the first case.

The detainee’s mother told Samoa News with tears in her eyes that she is so concerned about the safety of her son, especially since he’s being released from JDC this week. She said that she doesn’t want to see anything worse happen to her son, all she wants is for the government and the police to protect her son while the case of the four police officers is still pending in court.

The family consulted a private attorney this week about this case, and right now they are waiting for his release from JDC.