OAKLAND, Calif. - A tight-knit circle of Tongan friends and family have not yet buried a 28-year-old man killed during an Oakland chase, but they did celebrate the life of Lolomanaia "Lolo" Soakai over the July 4 weekend.
Henry Soakai said his older brother's autopsy has not yet been conducted, but that the Alameda County coroner expects to release his body sometime this week.
Lolo Soakai, an airline supervisor and devout Christian, was an innocent bystander caught up in a police chase of a 19-year-old speeding down International Boulevard on June 26, which ended when the driver crashed into a row of parked cars and motorcycles.
One of the motorcycles was ejected into the air and fell on top of Lolo Soakai, killing him. Their mother, who was standing next to her son at a taco truck when the chase ended, broke her back and is now recovering from surgery. Two cousins suffered minor injuries.
Two sources told KTVU that a pair of rookie officers had initiated the unauthorized chase and then fled the scene without rendering aid when they saw that the teen had crashed his Nissan 350Z.
The driver, Arnold Linaldi, 19, was not injured. He was arrested on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter. But as of Wednesday has not been charged with any crime. He is out of custody. Since the arrest, he has changed his name on Facebook, while also making private most of the photos and videos of himself speeding in cars.
Last week, Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said he stripped the officers of their police powers and was moving to terminate them.
As police conduct their internal investigation, Henry Soakai hopes to have a funeral for his brother later this week or next week.
He bought a plot for his brother on Wednesday at Mt. Eden in Hayward, where their father is also buried. He's helping his aunts with their flights from Tonga. And he's also taking care of his mother.
"She is still trying to process it all," Henry Soakai said.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, the Soakais large group of friends and relatives held a Fourth of July BBQ for Lolo Sokai, celebrating his life with ribs, chicken and a Tongan delicacy – kava tea.
"Kava brought him to the church," Henry Soakai said. "My brother was about fellowship. Kava tea helped bring everyone together and out of the streets."
Once the family has a funeral date, the ceremony will be public, as that is what his brother would have wanted.
Lolo Soakai was his mother's sole provider after his father died, and so an aunt started a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.