Car crash cop charges under review by A.G.

The Attorney General's office will offer its opinion on whether charges should be laid a Police Officer, who was behind the wheel of a car involved in a serious crash this week, the Acting Police Commissioner has confirmed. 

The collision, involving a Ford Ranger assigned to the Police's Tactical Unit and donated by the Australian government, occurred outside a Vailoa petrol station. 

The Ranger was driven by Corporal Junior Afereti.

The Attorney General’s office is reviewing the case file relating to the incident, Acting Police Commissioner Papali’i Monalisa Keti told the Samoa Observer. 

“The investigation has been referred to the [Attorney-General's] office for legal opinion on charges,” said Papali’i.

Police Officers within the Ministry who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions say allowing the Corporal to work while being investigated is a first for the Ministry. 

A constable assigned to the Court house told the Samoa Observer that, in his time on the force, Officers under investigation would be suspended as a matter of course. 

“This is surprising, but what I can say and do," the Officer said. 

"I remember one officer that was involved in a fight and we were called to the scene, the officer was suspended the very next day."

Earlier this week, Police Superintendent, Soloi Iosefa who is Acting Deputy Commissioner said that recommendations have been made pertaining to the Corporal involved however the final call is given by the Police Commissioner Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil who is on leave. 

According to the Deputy Commissioner, usual police protocols officers are placed on suspension once they are being charged.

Another officer shared the same concerns.

“The Corporal used to be the Commissioner’s driver before he went on a mission overseas. And the question that comes to mind, is it fair that when other officers are implicated in any incident they are placed on suspension and it is sad they cannot apply the same principle across the Ministry,” said the second officer. 

The crash took place at the Petrol Pump gas station on Vaitele Street after 3 pm. 

A nearby resident, Tauapai Usoalii, said a black car that had recently refuelled at the gas station was leaving and pulling out onto the main road when it collided with a passing police car.

"We were talking with one of my elders in front of our house, and then we saw the black car coming from inside the gas station and when it almost got to the road, we just looked away for a second and then we heard the bang," he said.

The collision left the small black car badly damaged. It lost its bumper and the car's front wheel axle was broken.

The Samoa Observer spoke to the accused in this matter, however he declined to comment. 

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