Bystander killed in crash caused by driver involved in Oakland sideshow, cops say
OAKLAND, Calif. - Relatives brought balloons to a growing memorial for Lolomanaia Soakai, a bystander killed by a car whose driver had been involved in a sideshow in East Oakland.
"I'm feeling sad, because I know from my heart, he's a very nice guy," Juinita Kata said of her nephew. She and her husband paid their respects for the 28-year-old near the crash site at 54th Avenue and International Boulevard.
Video posted on Instagram shows a Nissan 350Z driving east on International at about 2 a.m. Sunday. Not far behind is an Oakland police car, without its lights or sirens on.
A short while later, the Nissan crashed, sending a parked vehicle into a group of people. Soakai was killed and several others were hurt.
Oakland police arrested Arnold Linaldi, 19, on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
"Speed was a factor in this investigation, and it appears that the vehicle was involved in sideshow activity prior to the collision," said Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong.
Armstrong said the suspect had been speeding on International in a bus zone.
"Prior to the collision, two officers attempted to stop the vehicle traveling at nearly 100 miles per hour," Armstrong said. "The officers could not keep up with the vehicle, and the officers disengaged the vehicle."
The victim and his family are Christians and active in church.
"I forgive the people for what they're doing, they know what it's wrong, but the family, they are very sad," Kata said.
Oakland police have dedicated officers to stopping sideshows and towing vehicles. But often the number of cars and drivers far outnumber the officers.
Sarena Adams, who lives nearby, said she's had enough of sideshows.
"It's really sad, because it keeps happening," Adams said. "Weekly, daily, you know, maybe accidents up and down all the time. This is International."
Oakland police have opened an administrative investigation into this incident because the collision led to someone's death. Two Oakland police officers have been placed on administrative leave as a result to see if they were in compliance with the law and the department's investigation, Armstrong said. OPD's homicide division, internal affairs and community review agencies are all involved in the investigation.
Linaldi faces charges of vehicular manslaughter.