Questionable traffic citations dismissed after cops a 'no-show'

ausage@samoanews.com

A local businessman is questioning the way the Vice & Narcotics Unit is carrying out their duties, after District Court Judge Fiti Sunia last week dismissed two traffic citations issued to him by police officers from the Unit.

The two citations issued to Apelu Jr Milo and dismissed by the court had to do with an unsafe muffler, and unsafe tires and tint.

During his first court appearance on Oct. 3, Milo challenged the traffic citations and asked to go to trial.

The trial was set for last Thursday but Sunia dismissed the two traffic citations when the two cops from the Vice & Narcotics Unit who issued the citations didn't appear in court.

Samoa News understands that Milo sent letters to Judge Sunia and Pro-Temp Judge, Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde before his first court appearance, telling his side of what happened, and asking the court to dismiss the traffic citations, due to a violation of his constitutional rights.

Samoa News was able to obtain a copy of the letter which states that on Sept. 03, 2017 around 9:00 p.m while he was with his younger brother fueling his vehicle at a gas station in Nuuuli, a police officer approached him and told him that he was being pulled over because his vehicle had a defective muffler, and tires.

According to Milo, that was when the cop demanded him and his younger brother to exit the vehicle.

The police officer Milo is referring to is the leader of the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit. The victim and his younger brother cooperated accordingly, and they were guided by the said officer to the front of their vehicle.

At the same time, according to Milo's letter, other police officers were conducting an unauthorized search on his vehicle for illegal drugs, and although there were no drugs found in the vehicle, Milo stated that the police officer told him that part of their normal routine includes a search of the vehicle.

“The officer then issued me a traffic citation for a defective muffler and notified us to leave," and thanked us for our cooperation, said Milo.

A second traffic citation was issued on Sept. 20, and was described by Milo as being highly unusual.

According to him, it was around 1:00 p.m near Manumalo, that the same police officer who pulled him over and issued him a ticket two weeks prior, pulled him over again for yet another muffler violation.

Milo said he notified the police officer that he still had his prior citation for the same violation and he’s awaiting a court hearing. Milo said he gave the citation to the police officer after he allegedly demanded it, and after that, the police officer asked him why his vehicle's windows won’t lower, to which he responded that's the way the windows were when he bought the vehicle.

After a brief conversation with the police officer, Milo said the officer told him that he was being pulled over for unauthorized windows and tint.

The victim states in his letter that the officer allegedly ordered him in a rude manner to step outside of his vehicle, he (the officer) then allegedly learned him against his vehicle and subsequently performed an unauthorized pat down search on him in open view.

Milo said he emptied out all of his pockets, as ordered, and afterwards, the police officer identified himself as the member of the DPS CID unit, and said his job was to conduct searches for illegal weapons and drugs, although no illegal violations were determined.

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