That's when Villiami Lauti heard the engines. He'd been cleaning up inside Lourd's Ice Cream Parlor on 2825 MacArthur, but now his attention was out the front window. He couldn't tell if the second motorcycle was police, but he assumed it was because he saw red and blue lights flashing on the back of the bike. Brandon Davis was standing outside of Lourd's when the bikes approached. He figured the chasing motorcycle was CHP, because of the rider's tan uniform and white helmet. It looked like the bike might have been silver.

He watched the second motorcycle accelerate toward the first, closing the distance as the bikes passed the ice cream parlor parking lot. Then he saw the second bike ram into the first. Brown saw it too.

"Police kinda got up there and tried to slow him down, and he hit the back of the tire — the tire skidded the back of his tire — made him fly off the bike," Brown later told Hernandez, the private investigator. "To me it looked like that police officer made him do that."

“His death changed everything,” says Diallo Neal’s mother, Gilda Baker. “Diallo was the glue.”
Anna Latino
“His death changed everything,” says Diallo Neal’s mother, Gilda Baker. “Diallo was the glue.”
Diallo Jr. now takes care of the candy-purple ‘68 Ford Falcon his dad fixed up years ago.
Anna Latino
Diallo Jr. now takes care of the candy-purple ‘68 Ford Falcon his dad fixed up years ago.

The bystanders watched in horror as the Harley rider shot through the air and into a bus stop bench near the Coolidge Street corner, the bike skidding down the street in a spray of sparks. The second motorcyclist pulled to a stop when he hit the intersection's red light.

At that moment, Christopher Maxey and his brother were in their car, paused at the opposite side of the intersection. They saw the fallen Harley sliding toward them, and a man in a white T-shirt lying on the ground. They hopped out of their car and ran over. They saw what looked like a Highway Patrol officer across the street, in a gold helmet and tan uniform — "just regular uniform," Maxey would remember. Each set of eyes saw different variations on the attire of the second rider, tricks of light and bias that raise questions about the reliability of memory.

Sherri-Lyn Miller saw an entirely different kind of bike. Miller was walking up Coolidge with her 13-year-old son when she saw a motorcycle waiting at the stop light — the same one Maxey saw, except to her eyes, the motorcycle was a Harley-Davidson, not a law enforcement BMW. She didn't notice what the rider looked like.

Maxey and his brother were sure it was a CHP officer. As they cut through the intersection, they waved their arms at him, yelling for his attention. A dozen others nearby did the same. But the motorcyclist just sat there, staring at the scene. After a few moments, the motorcycle took off, turning down Coolidge in the direction of the Interstate 580 on-ramp.

"Like he didn't see it," Maxey told Hernandez. "I was like, 'Awww man. That's scandalous.'"


Star and Gilda heard rumors about CHP's possible involvement within hours. Many in the neighborhood, it seemed, knew someone or knew someone who knew someone who saw what happened. The family figured the police department would sort it all out, though; they were focused on grieving.

Diallo Jr. turned angry, angry enough to punch through a wall in Star's Pittsburg home not long after his dad's death. He was starting his first year of high school when the crash happened. He began cutting class and hanging out on the corners, smoking weed. His grades deteriorated.

Diara did the opposite, finding solace in her school work. She excelled. At 16, though, she has reached an age when car expenses and tuition payments become central.

Star's worried about that. With Diallo as breadwinner, Star had worked part time, and pursued a criminal justice degree, eyeing a career in a parole or probation department. She works full time now at a hospital — she switched out of criminal justice shortly after Diallo's death because, she says, "I don't want to be a part of that world." She used to never have to worry about money. Now her family lives paycheck-to-paycheck, and Star sometimes has had to take on a second job.

The house is quieter now. To help ease the financial stress, Diallo Jr. moved in with Gilda. The tight-knit family unit that Diallo worked hard to build and maintain is gone. "It's shattered," says Gilda. "His death just changed everything." Diallo's younger brother left Oakland for San Leandro six months after the crash. He couldn't bear to live there anymore. He's lost trust in people, says Gilda.

"We're still a family, but it's not the family we had," says Gilda. "That's gone. Diallo was the glue."

That Peralta Street duplex, once home for generations of a family, now feels vacant. Gilda rented out the top unit, and she and Diallo Jr live downstairs. Their living room is empty, the kitchen nearly bare. In her grief, Gilda gave away most of the furniture. She and Diallo had redecorated the house just months before his death, picking out new curtains and couches. Each item became a reminder of what was lost.


Gilda craved answers. Days after Diallo's death, she filed a claim with the state's Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, which helps pay funeral expenses and the like for family members of crime victims. She was surprised by the reason for rejection in the letter she received in February 2006. According to the "police report from the Oakland Traffic Department, the victim was riding his motorcycle at an unsafe speed causing the collision," it read. "Therefore staff must recommend that the board deny this claim." OPD's conclusion had been finalized.

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5 comments
gl5bak12
gl5bak12

JUSTICE FOR DIALLO SEKOU NEAL SR.

gm0622
gm0622

Troubling story. My thoughts and prayers to the family and friends.


gl5bak12
gl5bak12

Justice For Diallo Sekou Neal Sr.

There are answeres to many of the question needing to be answered.  Why arent the authorities asking these questions?  By failing to conduct an investigation ....every day they are breaking the law.   

gl5bak12
gl5bak12

The questions are answerable.  One in particular is, why did the authorities attempt to close an investgation they clearly knew had 2 motorcyles involved?  They covered up evidence for someone....for some reason.  They know the answer to why they did this.  OPD knows the answer to why when their procedure is to conduct investigations that happen on city streets, their own report says "CHP tok control of the investigation of Neal's death". OPD admits to violating it's own procedures.  If evidence has been distroyed, it should never have happened in a fatality,  Investigation beyond on the scene is a mandate invehicle fatal accidents.

gl5bak12
gl5bak12

The questions are answerable.  One in particular is, why did the authorities attempt to close an investgation they clearly knew had 2 motorcyles involved?  They covered up evidence for someone....for some reason.  They know the answer to why they did this.  OPD knows the answer to why when their procedure is to conduct investigations that happen on city streets, their own report says "CHP tok control of the investigation of Neal's death". OPD admits to violating it's own procedures.  If evidence has been distroyed, it should never have happened in a fatality,  Investigation beyond on the scene is a mandate invehicle fatal accidents.

 
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