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Corrections officer arrested and charged for disturbing the peace, assault

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA —  A corrections officer at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) who left home following an alleged peace disturbance and went to work with "red blood shot" eyes, and reeking with a "strong odor of alcohol" has been charged with private peace disturbance and two counts of third degree assault (one of them, domestic violence).

Tolfie Tala Heather made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday morning.

He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Anna Whiles while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell.

According to the government's case, the incident was reported to police this past Tuesday, Mar. 5 at 7pm in Iliili. The sister of the defendant's girlfriend had called police to request assistance, saying Heather had assaulted her husband and her sister.

Heather allegedly was yelling profanities and the commotion alarmed not only family members, but also the neighbors.

When police arrived at the scene, they saw a group of people roaming around the area, and they were informed that Heather had fled when he saw the police unit approaching.

Officers were able to speak to the caller who told police that Heather is a corrections officer at TCF, and he had verbally assaulted her husband inside their home, before punching and striking him with a chair.

The witness told police that Heather also assaulted her sister (Heather's girlfriend) who is 7 months pregnant. She told police to check the TCF, to see if Heather went to work.

Police spoke to the caller's husband (victim #1), who did not sustain any injuries and refused medical assistance. They also spoke to the defendant's pregnant girlfriend (victim #2) who had "fresh swollen bruises" on her right cheek.

Investigators note that the female victim was very "worried and fretful" for her safety, and she "repeatedly" told police that her boyfriend had assaulted her.

A search of the premises came up empty. Heather was nowhere to be found. The responding officers then made their way to the TCF where they were told the Heather had "just walked in" for work.

When cops checked the visiting area, they found Heather and other officers sitting around. Heather was advised to come to the Tafuna Substation and he was escorted there by on -duty cops.

He was booked and later confined at the TCF until his first appearance in court.

According to the criminal complaint, when he was brought in for questioning, investigators could smell a strong odor of alcohol emitting from the defendant and his eyes were bloodshot red. "Defendant consumed alcohol" and was "intoxicated," states the court affidavit.

During court proceedings yesterday, District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea released Heather on his own recognizance. Heather is to remain law abiding, not leave or attempt to leave the territory without the court's permission, and he is to remain drug and alcohol free.

He is to submit to random testing and he is to live elsewhere until his case is resolved. Heather is also ordered not to make any direct or indirect contact with the victims in this case.

The matter has been transferred to the Family, Drug and Alcohol (FDA) court and pretrial is set for April 15