‘Drinking sessions’ lead to violence and more arrests
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 earlier this month to 24 months behind bars.
Suluga Valoaga 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, Valoaga 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.
Valoaga admits that on May 12, 2019 he, along with two of his male friends, assaulted the victim, who had joined their drinking session at Valoaga’s home. A verbal argument erupted between the victim and one of Valoaga’s friends, causing Valoaga to instruct his friend to leave.
As Valoaga’s friend was leaving the area, the victim yelled out to him and challenged him to a fist fight. That’s when Valoaga, who had tried hard to calm things down, punched the victim, causing the man to fall down.
While on the ground, Valoaga kicked the victim in the back and on his face before punching him again. When cops tried to place him under arrest, Valoaga refused to have his hands cuffed. He walked away from officers and also damaged the victim’s iPhone valued at over $100.
Valoaga apologized to the court and begged for a second chance, saying he is the only person working to support his 3 young children. District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea sentenced Valoaga to 24 months in jail, subject to several conditions. He is to pay a $150 fine, and attend and complete anger management counseling.
An intoxicated man who was picked up by cops last Friday night, Nov. 12 and charged with public peace disturbance and resisting arrest has been released on his own recognizance, under standard conditions.
Minute Talitiga made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday morning. His next court appearance is Dec. 10th.
According to the government's case, the alleged disturbance occurred in Tafeta. When police arrived, Talitiga allegedly had fled but was being chased by another male on the roadside. Cops pulled up alongside Talitiga who "continued to walk away".
Court documents state that Talitiga raised his hands up and continuously said that what he did was in self defense. Cops noted that Talitiga sustained a laceration on his left eyebrow.
A witness told police that Talitiga was drinking with some friends near the scene and when he walked into his uncle's home, he heard his girlfriend "laughing loudly" in the presence of others and this made Talitiga upset.
Court documents say Talitiga then yelled profanities and shouted a Samoan war cry inside the house. Talitiga’s uncle and cousin "attempted to calm" him down but Talitiga "became more aggressive," according to the criminal complaint.
He ran out of the house when he heard his uncle calling the police.
According to investigators, Talitiga resisted when handcuffs were being placed on his wrists and he "attempted to flee but was blocked" by two officers.
Talitiga was transported to the hospital via ambulance and treated in the LBJ Emergency Room before he was taken back to custody at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).