PPD catches up man with outstanding warrant — plus a previous conviction
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man with an outstanding arrest warrant was taken into custody last month after police picked him up for a public peace disturbance (PPD) matter in Petesa in the Tafuna area.
Asomaliu Opetaia, 31, who has a previous assault conviction from 2014, made his initial appearance in court last month.
Opetaia is charged with second-degree assault and unlawful possession of marijuana, both felonies; and two misdemeanors — PPD and third degree assault.
Bail is set at $5,000.
Cops responded to a public peace disturbance in Petesa, Tafuna, after a young woman contacted police for assistance, regarding an intoxicated man yelling profanities at her father.
Police arrived and spoke to the caller who told them that it was around 6:21p.m when she called her father to pick her up, along with her children, in front of her friend’s house. She said as her father was about to exit his vehicle, an old white truck pulled up and scratched the left side of the vehicle her father was driving. Her father exited his vehicle and walked over to speak to the driver of the truck.
As her father was approaching the driver, a man who was later identified as the defendant exited the passenger’s side of the white truck, walked towards her father, and immediately punched him in the face and yelled, “You’re blocking the road.”
According to the witness, her father did not throw any punches; instead, he stood up and ran back to where his vehicle was parked, while the defendant followed him. Two men who were walking on the road at the time of the alleged incident jumped in and stopped the defendant from striking the victim again. However, the defendant turned around and punched one of the men who had tried to stop him.
The defendant then jumped in his vehicle and tried to leave the scene. However, the two men, who had jumped in to help, grabbed the defendant and held on to him until the police officers arrived.
Opetaia was apprehended outside of his truck and transported to the Tafuna Police Station (TPS) for questioning.
When interviewed, Opetaia said that he assaulted the victim for blocking the road. He said it was the victim’s fault, and went on to describe an incident that had happened one hour prior to the current confrontation, where the victim’s vehicle had blocked his truck from leaving the parking lot of an Asian store in Nuuuli when the victim parked behind him and went into the store. He said he waited for over an hour for the victim to come back out and remove his vehicle.
The defendant further stated that he and his cousin were driving when they spotted the same vehicle that had blocked their vehicle at the store blocking the other half of the road.
The defendant said he was in the passenger’s seat while his cousin was driving. He then exited their vehicle, walked over to the victim and yelled at him that he’s blocking the road before he punched him in the face. He also stated that the victim turned around and grabbed his neck and told him that he would kill him and his family if he bothered him again.
As he was making his way to his vehicle, the defendant told officers that two men walked over and tried to interfere, so the turned around and punched one man in the eye before both men grabbed his shirt and held him down to await the cops arriving on the scene.
It was revealed during Opetaia’s police interview that he had an outstanding arrest warrant from another assault case, where he is alleged to have assaulted a man, using a rock to strike his head.
THE OUTSTANDING WARRANT
On Aug. 21st, 2018, a woman contacted the TPS for help, after her husband was assaulted by a man, who worked as a grounds man for a family next to their house in Tafuna.
When police arrived, the woman told them her husband was working outside in their yard while Opetaia and two young men were doing a clean up at a family’s house next door and according to the woman’s statement, they were also drinking.
Opetaia is believed to have called out to the victim asking him to buy more beer for him as he looked like he had just come from off island. The victim gave Opetaia and his two friends food. However, apparently Opetaia didn’t appreciate the free food but asked the victim he wanted beer, not food.
The victim became angry and allegedly yelled out profane words to Opetaia and told him that he should be thankful for the free stuff he received from someone he doesn’t know. Furthermore, the victim told Opetaia that only a coward acted like that.
While the victim was standing in front of his vehicle, which was parked outside of his house, Opetaia walked over to him and hit him on the back of the head with a rock, causing the victim to fall; and while the victim was on the ground, Opetaia allegedly kicked his back twice before leaving the scene.
Video footage of the incident recorded by the nearby store’s surveillance camera was obtained by police, and it confirmed Opetaia’s involvement.
After police obtained a warrant from the court to arrest Opetaia, he was nowhere to be found.
On Mar. 20, 2014, Opetaia was sentenced to 20 months detention at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), as a condition of his 5-year probation sentence, after pleading guilty to the amended charge of second-degree assault, under a plea agreement with the government.
The government says Opetaia assaulted a man during a drinking session by stabbing him in the back and shoulder with a kitchen knife.