Police brutality charge lodged against TCF officer
Police Officer Sianava Nu’usila who works for the Tafuna Correctional Facility has been accused, and criminally charged, for police brutality of an inmate. The officer made his initial appearance in the District Court on Monday. Nu’usila was summoned to court on charges of third degree assault and public peace disturbance, which are both misdemeanors.
Samoa News points out that Nu’usila was among the police officers that the Commissioner of Public Safety had moved to terminate, however Human Resources Director Sonny Thompson ruled that suspension, not termination was warranted in this matter. Nu’usila was suspended for 30 days and is scheduled to return back to work on April 11, 2014.
According to the government’s case, on Nov. 27, 2013 an inmate escaped from jail and was found near a store in Kokoland where he was subdued and handcuffed. Court filings say that as soon as the inmate was cuffed, Nu’usila arrived at the scene and approached the inmate who was still handcuffed. It is alleged that Nu’usili kicked the inmate in the face.
According to the court document, the inmate was placed inside the police unit with Nu’usila and two other police officers and Nu’usila was near the inmate.
Court documents say that the inmate told police that while they were en route to the Tafuna substation, Nu’usila attempted to strangle him (the inmate). It’s alleged the inmate was “frustrated by how Nu’usila was treating him inside the police unit and the inmate struggled violently and yelled profanities at Nu’usila.” According to the government’s case, during the course of the investigation into this matter the officers in the police vehicle said the inmate was acting violently and had to be transported straight to the TCF.
Court documents say that Nu’usila allegedly tried to approach the inmate however he was restrained by other police officers on the scene. It’s alleged the inmate at one time was yelling at Nu’usila that he would tell the court of Nu’usila’s actions.
Upon arrival at the TCF, police officers saw the inmate had a bloody nose and had scratches on his face.
During his initial appearance, Nu’usila entered a plea of not guilty to the charges against him and a status hearing is now scheduled on this matter in two weeks time. Samoa News notes the inmate in question was taken to Manu’a for safe keeping, however he was returned to Tutuila when his case was called before the court.
The inmate was charged in two criminal cases. The first case accuses him of threatening a homeless man with a knife and secondly for escaping from police while incarcerated. In the first case, he was charged with a felony count of robbery first degree, two charges of unlawful use of a weapon, also felonies, and third degree assault, a misdemeanor. He has entered a guilty plea.
In this case he pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful use of a weapon and third degree assault, while the remaining charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal. The second case charges the defendant with escaping from police custody, with court filings saying that the inmate opened TCF’s unlocked gate and walked outside the jail.
In this case, he’s charged with escaping from confinement, resisting arrest and public peace disturbance. In the plea offer in this matter, the defendant pleads guilty to PPD, while the remaining charges are dismissed. The inmate is scheduled to be sentenced this week Friday.