US-based Tongan family files lawsuit against Police over son’s death in car chase

A Tongan family in California has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of a relative killed in a crash after a police-involved car chase.

Lolomana’ia Soakai, 27, was killed on June 2022 after a vehicle struck him.

Kaniva Tonga News reports Lolomana’ia’s mother, Lavina Soakai broke her back in the accident.

Family members Ina Lavalu and Daniela Fifita, and a friend, Sam Finau, were also injured.

The East Bay family and others were waiting for food outside a popular burrito truck when the fatal incident happened.

Reports at the time said, Police were investigating reports that the crash may have come shortly after an unauthorized pursuit of the Nissan by Oakland police. Two officers had been suspended from duty.

The family’s attorneys announced the lawsuit and released video of the incident that happened late last June.

“The family of Lolomanaia Soakai has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Oakland Police Department for a ‘ghost pursuit’ — chasing a car without lights, sirens or authorization —that ended in a collision that struck and killed the young man, and severely injured his mother, along with his family and others waiting for food outside a popular burrito truck”, Civil rights attorney Adante Pointer said in a statement which was sent to Kaniva Tonga News.

“These officers engaged in an unsanctioned, deadly car chase in order to satisfy their ego and urge to arrest someone for a low-level traffic infraction,” Oakland civil rights attorney Adanté Pointer said. “We expect officers to have the maturity and discipline to not give chase, or to discontinue a vehicle peursuit, when the odds of catastrophic injury or death are high. These officers ignored their training and commonsense which cost a good man his life.

“On June 25, 2022 police pursued the suspect at speeds of up to 100 mph through heavily populated surface streets in Oakland until the driver of the Nissan 350Z lost control on International Boulevard. The driver slammed into a row of parked cars and motorcycles, and crushed 27-year-old Lolo Soakai. His mother, Lavina Soakai, was gravely injured with a broken back. Family members Ina Lavalu and Daniela Fifita, and a friend, Sam Finau, were injured.

“Instead of calling for medical assistance and stopping to render aid, the Oakland Police officers drove past the scene with one of them reportedly remarking that he hoped the driver of the Nissan had died in the crash. They returned minutes later once 911 was called and emergency responders were racing to the scene, pretending to be unaware of the horrendous crash. 

“This was a tight-knit Tongan group who were celebrating a fellow church member’s college graduation.

“This was a man who took care of his widowed mother since his father died. He loved his job at Envoy Air, sang gospel in church and lived a quiet life devoted to family and friends.”

Photo supplied