An Oakland Police Commission report seems to confirm the allegation that two officers lied about a June 2022 high-speed chase of a suspected sideshow participant they conducted with no headlights or sirens on, a chase that killed an innocent bystander.
There has lately been discourse about police officers’ ability to engage in high-speed automobile pursuits, after SF Mayor London Breed recently proposed a ballot measure to allow SFPD car chases of nonviolent suspects. Whatever the merits of that, we will point out the reason such chases are avoided is that sometimes innocent bystanders are killed.
Tragically, that was the case with a June 2022 high-speed chase in which two rookie Oakland PD officers engaged in an unauthorized chase that ended in the death of a bystander, 28-year-old Hayward man Lolomanaia "Lolo" Soakai. To be fair, it was the suspect’s vehicle that crashed into and killed Soakai. But as video from the incident shows, the officers were engaged in what’s called “ghost chase,” that is, a nighttime chase with no headlights or sirens on, and at a speed of as much as 100 miles per hour. On top of that, the two officers had reportedly not been authorized to give chase.
That chase has already brought a lawsuit from Soakai’s family earlier this year, which alleged that two the officers fled the scene of the collision that killed Soakai without calling for help, came back and pretended they didn’t know about the fatal collision, and according to a new report from KTVU, said “something to the effect of ‘I hope they die’” (in reference to the alleged sideshow driver who crashed into Soakai).
That KTVU report covers an Oakland Police Commission report from the commission’s Community Review Police Agency that concludes the two officers lied in their accounts of the incident, and violated several policies while engaging in the high-speed pursuit. Officers Walid Abdelaziz and Jimmy Marin-Coronel were not directly named in that report. But the June 26, 2022 date described in the report matches the date of this incident, and KTVU says “a source also confirmed that the sustained findings relate to these two officers.”
A third officer “was investigated” as well, according to KTVU, but was cleared of any wrongdoing.
In that fatal 2022 chase, 19-year-old suspect Arnold Linaldi was allegedly barreling away from a sideshow in a Nissan 350Z, then crashed into a row of cars parked at 54th Avenue and International Boulevard. One of those cars landed on and killed Soakai, who was standing in line at a taco truck. His mother and a few relatives were also injured.
According to a KTVU report from last month, Oakland has tried to fire the two officers, after then-chief LeRonne Armstrong “relieved the officers of police powers” not long after the 2022 incident. Presumably, the two remain on leave. Meanwhile, the alleged sideshow driver Linaldi faces felony vehicular manslaughter charges, so there's still plenty yet to sort out about this case.
Image: City of Oakland