Fagatogo rugby players charged in alleged assault case
Two players with the Fagatogo Rugby club have been charged with the assault of a player from an opposing team, in an incident that is said to have occurred during an Oct. 26 match for the Mosooi Festival Rugby Sevens tournament, and the alleged attack landed a man in the surgical ward of LBJ Medical Center.
Rugby players Talofa Faimoa and Fatutoa Levi have each been charged with second-degree assault, a felony punishable by up to five years in jail, a fine of $5,000 or both. Each defendant is also charged with misdemeanor public peace disturbance, according to court documents, adding that bail for each defendant is set at $5,000.
Levi’s case is now with the High Court, where he entered a not guilty plea yesterday, with pre trial conference set for Dec. 12. Faimoa appears today in District Court for his preliminary examination hearing.
Court documents state that police were contacted on Oct. 30 by LBJ personnel saying that a victim was at the surgical ward due to injuries sustained as the result of an assault. When interviewed by police, the victim—who is with the Mapusaga Fou rugby team— alleged that he was assaulted by two unknown rugby players from the Fagatogo team during a match between the two teams at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The victim alleged that he had been punched in the facial area by two rugby players when a fight broke out during the match; and the last punch by an unknown Fagatogo player landed on the right side of his jaw, knocking him “unconscious” which caused him to fall to the ground.
During the course of the investigation, police retrieved a video recording and still photos taken during the match and it was from there that police were able to identify the defendants by the numbers on their rugby jerseys.
Police learned that Levi was the “main instigator” of the brawl and alleged that Levi had thrown the first punch that struck the victim, adding that it was learned that a few seconds later, during the fight that ensued, Faimoa was allegedly seen punching the victim in the jaw, which caused the victim to fall to the ground.
Due to the alleged assault, the victim suffered swelling on the lower right side of his face and jaw, court documents say, and noted that LBJ physician Dr. Leute Pio Leota later diagnosed the victim “with a mandibular angle fracture to the right side” of his face and this was confirmed by an x-ray of the victim, who required surgery as a result of the injuries he sustained.
As reported last week by Samoa News, the American Samoa Rugby Union board was to meet to discuss what penalties, if any, would be handed out against the players involved in the alleged assault. ASRU chairman Togiola Tulafono left early this week for an off island rugby meeting and Samoa News will have in Monday’s edition an update on the ASRU decision.