COURT REPORT: Assault and PPD charges — Just a matter of degree
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young man who assaulted another man by punching him in the face and kicking him multiple times while he was on the ground was sentenced last month to 24 months behind bars.
Tolai Taaloga was initially charged with third degree assault; third degree property damage; resisting arrest; and stealing — all class A misdemeanors. However, under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Taaloga pled guilty to third degree assault and third degree property damage, each punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000 or both. The remaining charges were dismissed.
Taaloga admits that on May 12, 2020 he, along with two of his male friends, assaulted the victim, who had joined their drinking session at Taaloga’s home. A verbal argument erupted between the victim and one of Taaloga’s friends, causing Taaloga to instruct his friend to leave.
As Taaloga’s friend was leaving the area, the victim yelled out to him and challenged him to a fistfight. That’s when Taaloga, who had tried hard to calm things down, punched the victim, causing the man to fall down, where Taaloga continued to assault the victim. He also damaged the victim’s iPhone valued at over $100.
When cops tried to place him under arrest, Taaloga refused to have his hands cuffed and walked away from officers.
Taaloga apologized to the court and begged for a second chance, saying he is the only person working to support his 4 young children. The court sentenced Taaloga to 24 months in jail, subject to several conditions. He is to pay a $100 fine, and attend and complete anger management counseling.
The Court has set bail for Galuega Fonofaavae, who was taken into custody two weeks ago following an incident in Tafuna where he is alleged to have gone to his neighbor’s home with a kitchen knife, and also challenged people in the neighborhood to a fight.
Fonofaavae, who made his initial appearance in court two weeks ago, is charged with misdemeanor public peace disturbance (PPD).
The prosecutor says the government may file additional charges, as the police investigation continues on allegations of possible trespassing and making verbal threats.
If Fonofaavae is able to post bail, he is ordered not to bother his neighbor or attempt to set foot on their property. He is also not to make any direct or indirect contact with the neighbor.
Fonofaavae will appear in court again on Dec. 28th.
According to court information, the PPD charge stems from a disagreement between Fonofaavae and his neighbor over the access road used by both families.
The neighbor contacted police for assistance after Fonofaavae allegedly came to his house and used a knife in a threatening manner, in addition to making verbal threats to an elderly man of his family.
It’s alleged that Fonofaavae’s actions came after a drinking session he had with friends at his home. When interviewed by police, Fonofaavae admitted that he had a kitchen knife and was making threatening statements to people in the neighborhood. He said he was just trying to prove a point to his neighbor, but he had no intention of hurting anyone.