"I know they do some pretty ugly stuff," says Diallo Jr. "Coming from this community, you just witness a lot. When I was younger, I was real scared of OPD."

But the family's sentiments toward their city's police force lean more toward resignation than fury. Instead, their outrage has fixated on the person who they didn't expect to let them down: Darrell Langston.

Langston and Diallo grew up together, called each other brothers. So Gilda and Star were perplexed and enraged by Langston's behavior following his best friend's death. He did not show up at the hospital. He did not visit the house the next day. He did not attend the memorial. He effectively disappeared from their lives. Most strikingly, he did not cooperate with the police. This fact, more than anything else, raised Gilda's and Star's suspicions over what he knows about Diallo's death.

“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.

"I was just so confused," says Star. "Because, did Darrell do it? Did the CHP do it?"

Was Langston being so elusive because he had something to hide? Or was he simply paranoid because, if CHP was responsible, he was worried about becoming the scapegoat?

Diallo Jr. believes the latter. "I understand why he left," he says. "They probably would have pinned it on him."

Langston does not want to talk about it. When SF Weekly called his cell phone to set up a meeting, he agreed and asked that we call him the next day at 5 p.m. to confirm a location. He didn't pick up at 5 p.m. Nor at 6 or 7. Nor any time over the next few weeks. He didn't return voice mails or texts. The address on his business card for "Swag Motors," an auto body shop he opened in Hayward, is now an empty lot. Neighboring business owners weren't familiar with Langston and said that the lot had been empty for at least a couple of years.

Langston did, however, tell his side of the story to Hernandez back in November 2005, the month after the crash.

In Langston's version, a CHP motorcycle officer pulled up beside him and Diallo as they reached the Coolidge/Fruitvale exit on I-580 west. Diallo was in front and Langston was behind him. He said the officer yelled at them to pull over. The officer looked angry. When they reached the Coolidge Street stoplight, Langston said, Diallo made a slow right turn, to get out of the way of any oncoming cars. The CHP then cut in front of Langston to follow Diallo. So Langston, who "didn't feel like being bothered," made a left on Coolidge.

"That is the last time I seen my best friend," he said.

He called a mutual friend to let him know that Diallo had gotten pulled over. That friend told him that Diallo had crashed.

Langston's story is not implausible. The medical examiner found in Diallo's pocket a "small white-like rock" wrapped in plastic and sealed in an envelope, along with around $3,800 in cash (the cash was not necessarily unusual given that most of Diallo's side-hustles, like selling clothes and flipping cars, were often cash-based). If Langston's story is true, a possible scenario emerges: Diallo, with his new business and stable family, has too much to lose to risk facing criminal charges; a skilled motorcyclist, he flees; the CHP officer pursues him; maybe the officer is pissed at Diallo's nerve and bumps him to send a message or maybe the bump was accidental or maybe there was no bump and Diallo simply lost control.

Or maybe none of that is true. Maybe Langston was the second motorcyclist. Maybe they were racing and he accidentally bumped his best friend, stopped at the light to try to grasp what had happened, panicked and took off.

And so on.

There are few certainties in the mystery of how Diallo Neal died. But one certainty is that the only living person who definitely knows what happened that night is Darrell Langston. Either he was being honest, and a CHP officer was with Diallo two blocks away from the crash, or he was lying.

The truth lives with him.

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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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