Alleged beating of a man in Tafuna was over borrowed carpentry tools
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Two men are being charged in connection with the alleged beating of another man in Tafuna two weeks ago over borrowed carpentry tools. The victim ended up in ICU.
The two men, Naasona Valoaga and Filipo Semeatu made their initial appearances in District Court last week.
They are each charged with second-degree assault and felonious restraint, both class D felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. They are also each charged with third degree assault, a class A misdemeanor.
Each man is being held on a $20,000 bond, with the usual caveats, including not making any direct or indirect contact with the victim or any of the government’s witnesses.
Valoaga and Semeatu appeared in court this Thursday for a preliminary hearing.
The government claims that on Aug. 20, 2019, a woman contacted the Tafuna Substation about a possible assault involving two men who allegedly assaulted another man in Tafuna.
The victim, a 46-year-old father of five, works as a carpenter for a local construction company.
When detectives arrived at the scene, EMS personnel were already assisting the victim on to a stretcher and into an EMS unit. The victim at the time was still breathing but not responsive. He was transported to the LBJ for further treatment.
Witnesses told police that the victim was being assisted on to a truck before the EMS unit arrived; and two men beat the victim. The two men were in a drinking session behind a nearby store.
One of the witnesses said she was inside the store when she heard people screaming from the outside. Going outside, she said she saw two men beating the victim behind the store and she identified the two assailants as Naasona and Filipo.
She told police she saw Naasona kick the victim’s head while he was on the ground; and Filipo was holding the victim’s hands while Naasona was assaulting him.
Another witness told police that Naasona and Filipo were drinking in the back of a small shack behind the Asian store, and they started around 4:30p.m. At around 8:31p.m., a vehicle pulled in and parked at the backside of the store. The man who exited the vehicle and walked into the store was identified as the victim.
As the victim was making his way to his vehicle, Naasona called out to him, “Brother, when are you going to return my tool box?” The victim seemed to recognize the voice and he made his way to where Naasona and Filipo were drinking, and joined them, according to a witness, who added that the shack was dark, making any movement hard to see.
On Friday, Aug. 24th, three days after the alleged incident, investigators were able to interview the victim in the ICU.
According to the victim, as he made his way back to his vehicle on the night in question, a man called out to him, asking about a toolbox he borrowed two months earlier. The victim said it was clear from the man’s voice that it was Naasona, another carpenter.
He admitted that he had borrowed Naasona’s toolbox.
The victim said he walked to the shack where Naasona was, and noticed that there was another man, whom he didn’t know. The man was later identified as Filipo, the co-defendant.
The victim told investigators that as he was speaking with Naasona, Filipo left the shack and went to the store. He said he didn’t know when Filipo returned. But he did remember being caught by surprise when Naasona punched him in the face while they were talking. He said he felt someone grab the collar of his T-shirt from behind and then he was punched.
The victim said Naasona held his hands while he was on the ground, and Filipo punched him. And then he saw Naasona holding a chain.
According to the victim, Filipo got the chain from Naasona and swung it at him, hitting the left side of his face. Filipo then used the chain to strangle him, and he was in and out of consciousness during the assault, but eventually was able to move.
The victim said he heard people coming to help him, and two men were trying to stand him up and walk him to a truck — before the EMS unit arrived.
When questioned by police, Naasona admitted that he and Filipo assaulted the victim, after the victim told him that half of the tools that were inside his toolbox were stolen. Filipo, too, admitted that he assisted Naasona in assaulting the victim. He told police he used a chain to strangle the victim while he was on the ground.