23 Aug 2005

American Samoa court rules police officer connected to alleged beating can face civil lawsuit

12:32 pm on 23 August 2005

The High Court in American Samoa has denied a police officer's application to dismiss a civil lawsuit against him, in connection with an alleged police beating.

Lieutenant Tulele Laolagi has asked the court to dismiss the 1.7 million US dollar lawsuit filed in April against him by 18-year-old Poutasi Taise.

The Samoa News says the court ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear several claims brought against the officer and found Mr Taise's other claims to be valid.

Mr Taise's attorney, Sharron Rancourt, has described the decision as an important one because it reinforced that police officers facing excessive force claims didn't have automatic immunity from civil lawsuits simply because they worked for the government.