Criminal charges denied by suspended officer

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 14 August 2017, 12:00AM

Suspended Police Officer, Aiolupotea La’auli Talataina has vehemently denied the three criminal charges that have been laid. 

The hearing for Aiolupotea was held last week before District Court Judge, Fepulea’i Roma Ameperosa. 

The defendant is represented by Leiataualesa Komisi Koria while prosecuting is Ofisa Tagaloa of the Attorney General’s Office. 

Initially the Attorney General’s office filed 10 charges against the suspended officer. 

However during the case, Tagaloa made a motion to withdraw seven of the  charges, leaving three for the prosecution to prove beyond the court’s reasonable doubt. 

The charges are in connection with a training session held for members of the Tactical Operational Unit up in Malololelei.

It is there that it is alleged the defendant shot at one of the Police Officers. 

Aiolupotea took the stand where the court heard firsthand, that he asked for permission to take his gun along, so they could shoot birds after the training. 

“This gun is a 22 rifle bolt action single shot firearm and it’s registered under my name,” he said. 

During the training, he said the gun was left in the Police vehicle. 

According to Aiolupotea there were two teams. 

His team he said got lost on the way and when they caught up with the Police vehicle he saw his gun. 

“I retrieved it and our team leader inquired as to why I had it. 

“He then asked me to hand over the gun and the bolt was removed and we carried on with our training.” 

“Following the training, that’s when I put the bolt back in and put a bullet in it. 

“Then I targeted a Fau tree to look for birds at the same time, other Police Officers came and joined in the search for birds to shoot. 

“I took one shot, then the gun was handed over to other Police Officers whileI fetched water.

“The other police officers took turns shooting at the Fau tree and they also took photos with the gun. 

“Not long after, one police officer said the scope of the gun was cracked. 

“I took the gun back and placed it in the Police vehicle,” said Aiolupotea. 

He further informed the court that it was in September 2016 when he was informed by former Assistant Commissioner, Michael Afamasaga about an investigation launched against him regarding the gun that he had taken to Malololelei during training. 

Aiolupotea told the court that he was saddened by the testimony ofConstable Lene.  

“I was not aware he was under the Fau tree,” he said. 

“I am highly concerned about safety when it comes to weapons and I strongly deny the allegations he has made against me,” said Aiolupotea. 

The complainant, Constable Lene Epa told the Court two weeks ago that on 01 January 2016, they had held a training session at Malololelei.

It was alleged there that La’auli was armed with a firearm. 

Constable Epa claims he was in the field when he saw La’auli aiming the firearm and discharging it towards where he was standing.  

“I was scared so I walked up to where La’auli was standing and asked him why was he shooting towards where I was standing,” said Constable Lene.

“La’auli didn’t say anything he just smiled and then he started shooting at the birds.”

Constable Lene also told the Court of another incident involving Vaioleti Telesia.

“I remember this day. It was the 1st of January 2016, we came back from responding to a call and we went straight to Apia headquarters and inside our office (T.O.S.).” 

“Not long after we were in the office, La’auli walked in with a bag that had the gun inside."

“He opened the bag and brought out the gun and he cocked the gun as Vaioleti Telesia walked in through the door. 

“La’auli then walked towards Vaioleti and he pointed the gun at her head and asked what she wanted. 

“He asked her if she wanted him to shoot her.

“Inspector Koko Kema then told La’auli not to do such a thing and La’auli responded that he was just playing."

“Then Inspector Koko Kema told La’auli not to play around with the gun and that’s when he turned around, put the gun in the bag and walked out.”

The hearing continues. 

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 14 August 2017, 12:00AM

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