Two Oakland police officers were placed on leave this week amid an investigation into a fatal sideshow-related crash over the weekend, Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said Wednesday.
“We identified potential misconduct, very serious potential misconduct in our investigation,” Armstrong said Wednesday evening during a short press conference.
The chief did not give specifics of an investigation into the officers’ actions in connection with the fatal crash, which happened early Sunday in the 5400 block of International Boulevard.
Police said Arnold Linaldi, 19, is suspected of participating in a sideshow and then speeding east on International in a bus lane at nearly 100 mph in a Nissan 350Z.
The officers tried to pull him over but couldn’t keep up and eventually disengaged, the chief said.
Shortly before 2 a.m., the Nissan hit another vehicle and spun out of control, hitting four men on the sidewalk, and several parked cars and motorcycles, according to police.
One of the men, Lolomanaia Soakai, 28, of Hayward, died at the scene. The other three were hospitalized and listed in stable condition after the crash, police said. Soakai wasn’t involved in any sideshow-related activity, police said.
Linaldi, an Oakland resident, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter. The two officers involved were initially placed on administrative leave, which is protocol after such incidents. But on Monday, the department relieved one officer of their police powers and the second officer on Tuesday.
The chief did not address questions posed at the Wednesday press conference about whether the officers had improperly pursued the suspect’s car. The department has clear policies about receiving permission to pursue vehicles, the chief said.
“It is always sad when you see someone lose their life,” Armstrong said. “If we were involved in any way with this incident, we want to make sure that officers are held accountable if they did not follow policy.”
Both officers were a little beyond being rookies, the chief said, as they each had served about 1 1/2 years.
Investigators have gathered several videos and talked to witnesses in connection with the incident, Armstrong said.
“It’s important to remember that the incident occurred after an egregious action on the part of Linaldi and his blatant disregard for public safety,” Armstrong said.
The case is being investigated by the Oakland Police Department homicide and internal affairs divisions, and the Oakland Community Police Review Agency.
The department is consulting with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office regarding any potential culpability of the officers, police said.
Source: NBC Bay Area