The Samoa Police Service has issued a statement confirming the severity of the attack against Police officers when they were called to Luatuanu’u to resolve a conflict there, last month.
According to a statement issued to the Weekend Observer, the Police estimate that $10,000 is the cost of damages to Police and private vehicles as result of the road block at the village.
The Police also claim they were shot at when they arrived, among other claims.
The Police statement is published verbatim below:
“The Samoa Police Service (S.P.S.) is continuing its investigation into the incidents that occurred in the village of Luatuanuu during the weekend from Saturday, 17 March 2018 through Monday, 19 March 2018.
During this period, the S.P.S. received numerous calls from the members of the public reporting that Luatuanu'u youths, armed with sticks and stones and with their faces concealed with pieces of clothing, were blocking the main road, searching their vehicles, and threatening the occupants of these vehicles; further, there were reports of stones being thrown at passing vehicles.
Immediately, uniformed members of S.P.S. were dispatched to the village of Luatuanu’u on Saturday evening, 17 March 2018, to investigate. Upon arrival, the police sought assistance from the pulenu'u (mayor) of Luatuanu’u on Saturday night to assist with the investigation and to stop the illegal activities by the village youth.
The pulenu'u insisted that he will handle the issue.
Unfortunately, the next day, Sunday evening, 18 March 2018, members of the public, again, reported that their vehicles were being illegally stopped, searched, and the occupants harassed and threatened by unidentified persons on the main road in the village of Luatuanu'u.
Police, again, responded and met with the same pulenu’u to assist in de-escalating the matter and, again, the pulenu’u advised the police officers to leave the matter to their village council to handle and resolve.
However, early Monday morning, 19 March 2018, concerned members of the public reported to the police, again, that they were being stopped and harassed at a roadblock in the village of Luatuanu’u and the situation was escalating.
Consequently, a contingent of uniformed officers in marked police vehicles were dispatched to the village of Luatuanuu to investigate to ensure public safety.
Immediately upon arrival, makeshift roadblocks were observed on the main roadway, and soon after stones were hurled at occupied police vehicles, occupied privately owned vehicles, and toward uniformed officers who were on foot on the main road dismantling the trees and rocks used to block the roadway. The police officers were unarmed and not on village land. Moreover, multiple sounds of gunfire were heard coming from the village during the melee.
By the grace of God, only a total of eight police officers sustained injuries worthy of hospital treatment.
The injured officers were subsequently transported and treated at the national hospital for their injuries sustained from the stone throwing. Further, multiple vehicles (private and police) sustained damages from the incident with an estimated cost of repair to police vehicles to be approximately $10,000.00 tala.
To date, 20 individuals have been arrested and charged; 15 of whom were members of the Luatuanuu village; and a possibility of more arrests to follow.
S.P.S. is continuing its investigation into this unwarranted incident, including the unlawful discharge of firearms on Monday.
We are appealing to the members of the public who were illegally stopped, searched, harassed, or injured from this incident to come forward. Please contact Senior Sergeant Eneliko Taeu or Superintendent Sale Salaa of Criminal Investigation Division on 22222, or in person at Police Headquarters for further information.
S.P.S. encourages everyone not to take criminal matters into their own hands. Please contact the police for assistance instead. Lastly, S.P.S. acknowledges the tremendous and invaluable community work and contributions of village councils throughout Samoa, particularly in assisting the police in keeping Samoa safe. Manuia soifua.”