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POLICE UPDATE: Escaped inmates captured, juvie investigation ongoing

Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson [SN file photo]

Pago Pago, American Samoa — Two inmates that escaped from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) two weeks ago were found by police last weekend, according to Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson, who also confirmed there is an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct involving a police officer at the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC).

Le’i confirmed to Samoa News that Joseph Iosefa Iakopo and Joe Togitogi are now back in custody and are no longer being housed in the same area from where they escaped.

“The two inmates are now being held in a secure area at TCF. They are no longer held at the new prison facility, but locked up in a safe area to stop them from escaping again. Unfortunately, DPS has to put guards to work a day and night shift to make sure these folks do not escape again,” he said.

“Police will finalize their report on the two separate cases about inmates escaping from prison last month and this month, and charges will be filed against them once the investigation is complete.”

With the ongoing investigation into the alleged misconduct against a male police officer, who worked at the JDC, Le’i told Samoa News that the DPS Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is still investigating the issue, and once the investigation is complete, a final decision will be made.

“There are a lot of issues that CID needs to look at in this incident, not only are they looking at any alleged criminal acts by the officer, but also looking at any misconduct against DPS policies and procedure. We need to dig up every single element of the alleged incident to make sure we are satisfied with all the information we receive before a final decision will be made,” Le’i said.

“CID is still investigating the case now. 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.

“I just want to let the public and also the family of the alleged juvenile victim to 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 of your actions.”

Sources told Samoa News that the alleged 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, is 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.