Police prosecutor suspended following alleged beating death

A decorated Police Prosecutor, Sergeant Khamtahn Stanley, has been suspended from duty following an alleged beating early on Saturday morning which killed a 20-year-old Vaiusu man. 

"I can confirm he has been suspended," said Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, while speaking to the Samoa Observer.

The Sergeant's suspension is connected to the incident but it is not known what role he played. 

Fuiavailiili declined to answer any further questions whether the Sergeant was a suspect, was believed to have been involved in any altercation or had been charged: "I can't comment on that case - it's pending". 

The 20-year-old male victim was named Penitito Toma, who passed away on Sunday night at the Tupua Tamasese Hospital after suffering from a alleged severe beating which left him with fatal injuries. Alcohol is suspected to have been a contributing factor, Police say.  

The high-ranked non-commissioned officer had prosecuted a number of senior cases during his career with the Ministry of the Police during which he rose through the ranks to become a Sergeant. 

His recent cases as a prosecutor included serving on the inquest following the death of two infants following the fatal administration of a mixture of vaccine and anaesthetic in an incident in Savai'i last year. 

He was previously decorated for bravery for his role in a multinational peacekeeping force in South Sudan in 2014, at which time he retained the rank of Sergeant. 

Fuiavailiili on Monday told the Samoa Observer that the deceased was beaten in his village in the early hours of Saturday morning and was later taken to the hospital by the Police. He said alcohol was suspected to have been involved.

The victim was alleged, his relatives said, to have been involved in a property crime plot. 

Asiotu Mamoe, who is Penitito's uncle and father figure, said he reviewed C.C.T.V. footage showing the deceased an walking on the property. 

"The question is, if there are some videos of him wandering outside of the house, they should also have videos of inside of the house and what happened," he said, while trying to fight back tears.

"There's a lot of rumors saying he was trespassing and so forth but still there is no reason to beat a kid to death," he said.

He said the Police visited his house at around 11.00pm on Saturday night to report the incident.

The deceased was unemployed and not in school, opting to help his family as he could not finish his education.

But his sudden passing is not sitting well with his family, who are awaiting the outcome of the Police’s investigations, and want justice to take its course.

Mr. Mamoe said: "We cannot wait to hear about what happened, but we dearly miss him and no family shouldn’t want justice for their family members when something like this happens.”

A former student of the Saint Joseph College, the deceased is a member of the Catholic Church in Vaiusu.

Attempts to contact Sergeant Khamtahn Stanley were unsuccessful on Tuesday. 

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