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Youth facing jail time after allegedly stoning police cars

Seven teenagers who agreed among themselves to stone police vehicles, an act which injured a senior police officer last year October, made their initial appearance before the District Court on Monday.

Vani Atafua, Siaosi Laulu, Benjamin Maybir and Iosefa Falealo are charged with property damage first degree which is a class D felony and is punishable by up to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000 —and public peace disturbance, which is a misdemeanor.

There are also three juveniles involved, who are facing first degree assault and property damage.

Court filings say that while Lt. Fase Ta’ase was patrolling the main road on October 28, 2011, a rock landed on his face injuring his eye. It’s alleged that other objects were thrown at the police vehicle, but Lt. Ta’ase did not stop to see who was involved because his eye was injured as a result of the first rock, and the area where the objects were coming from was dark.

The Lieutenant suffered a cut on his eye.

The vehicle which Lt. Ta’ase was driving had huge dents on the rear side and the damage to the car was estimated at $1,100 for repair.

The police affidavit says the same night, another police vehicle was stoned at the same area in Nu’uuli. This vehicle was driven by Police officer John Liu Chan. It’s alleged the rocks landed on the side of the vehicle, and when office Liu Chan slowed down, he observed young adults running away.

The officer did not pursue the suspects because the area was dark. The estimated damage to the vehicle driven by Officer Chan is $950.

Court filings say that after asking around the area, the youth were pointed out; and were taken in for questioning, during which Laulu told police that he saw his friends, Atafua, Maybir, Falealo and the three juveniles randomly throwing stones at vehicles that were passing by on the main road.

It’s alleged that it was Laulu who told his friends not to throw rocks at buses but only at police vehicles. The defendants are alleged to have stoned three police vehicles, a van, an SUV and a sedan.

Court filings allege that some of the defendants stoned an aiga bus the same night.

The three juveniles are accused of throwing stones at the police van, which was occupied by Lt. Taase.

All the defendants are held on $10,000 bail, and are represented by the Public Defender’s office. Prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna.

The adults are scheduled to appear again for their preliminary examination this coming Friday. This hearing is to determine whether the government has sufficient evidence to have the case bound over to the High Court.