Mother Of Diallo Neal: Police Killed My Son And Covered Up

Interview with Gilda Baker, the mother of Diallo Neal, who was killed when a CHP motorcycle officer struck his motorbike.

On October 10, 2005, a day before Diallo Neal would have turned 34, he was killed when a CHP motorcycle officer struck his motorbike, sending him plunging into a bus stop concrete bench. For five years, his mum, Gilda Baker was living with the assumption that he had died in an accident, because the police had lied about the incident. However, after finding out that several accounts of eyewitnesses and investigation documents did not match the official police report, she set out to uncover the real circumstances surrounding her son’s death. Since then, Gilda Baker has uncovered a long trail of lies, conspiracies and cover-ups. On October 11, a rally is going to be held in memory of Diallo, and a call for the full truth is being made. Gilda Baker talked to us about how the family has been coping since they tragically lost Diallo, what has been done so far in the search for the truth and what the rally on October 11 is meant to achieve.
We’re very sorry for your loss. Could you please tell us more about what happened to your son?
Gilda Baker
Thank you. Well, what’s really striking for me is that no law enforcement ever came to my home to tell me anything. I got a call that my son had been brought to the hospital in trauma. I didn’t realize that he was already dead. So I called family members, and we met at the hospital. Nobody said a word, they put us in a room and when the doctor came in, he just said that Diallo didn’t make it and we lost him. The emotions, the numbness set in immediately, the only thing we thought about was his friend who was also riding with him. Where was he? So we focused on him, we didn’t ask any questions because the emotions were so high, we didn’t know what to think. So anyway, they let us leave and we never heard from law enforcement. But the next day or so someone came to my home and said that police had been called because witnesses saw what happened and said a highway patrol officer had chased my son, struck his motorcycle and threw his body into a concrete bus stop bench. The police report as found later, constructed an accident as though my son was riding and crashed. However, his motorcycle was intact, it had just a couple of scratches on it. I contacted the office, and a prominent investigator was hired who spoke to witnesses, took footage of the area as well as my son’s motorcycle. However, when he brought the black bag to my home, which he told me was my son’s clothing, he didn’t say anything, and when I asked how did my son die, he just said blunt force trauma. When I contacted law enforcement, they sent us towards his friend, even in the police report it says that witnesses must have seen his friend, not CHP. So it sped me towards his friend because although he spoke to the private investigator, when I asked, he would not go with me to law enforcement to say what he saw. So I started to scorn him, thinking he must have been there. It was so traumatic! But later, they sat down on Facebook covering it up, they were spinning it in different directions and the fact that they never questioned him or further questioned witnesses and the fact that OPD mentioned in the police report that CHP took control of the investigation although any death that occurs on a city street, I’ve learned, is supposed to be investigated by the city and not the state. But because of their involvement, they sent the case down, did the on-scene investigation which should’ve been several levels of investigations before they finalized a report but that’s not what they did, they shut it down immediately. And I found that was because they were actually the ones that killed my son.
So what kind of investigations have been done into the killing of your son?
Gilda Baker
The only investigation was through the private investigator but because the attorney would not take the case, it just went away and I became just totally confused about everything, putting the black bag away, not looking in it, thinking I don’t want to see bloody clothes from my son’s death. So I put them away and for 5 years I never looked in that bag even though I knew there was a private investigator’s report, because of my trust of law enforcement and the legal system, I thought law enforcement couldn’t be involved because nothing was being done about it. They never came to my home, so again I focused on his friend, only to find out years later when I pulled the information from my basement, there was a coroner’s report, a police report and the minimal notes taken by the attorney’s office. When I started to read through things, I knew something was wrong. So I started to write to all levels of law enforcement, from department of justice going down, writing multiple attorneys, nobody paid attention to me. They ignored me and so I filed a civil claims pro se with the city of Oakland first on my own. And they sent me all my documents back saying that the statute of limitations had expired, so I filed at the district level pro se and I was told the statute of limitations had expired. But I don’t know what they are saying it expired on because they said they didn’t do it and I have the police report that shows that they say they were not involved. So I’m confused about what the statute is supposed to be protecting when this is a murder and someone left the scene and they spun it as if my son crashed his motorcycle. I have evidence to show that’s not true. They never investigated.
We’re very sorry for what happened to your son. Could you tell us a little bit about Diallo? What kind of person was he? We understand that he was a motorcycle enthusiast. Was he in any kind of group or association of bikers?
Gilda Baker
He had just joined a biker group and I’m not sure what the name of it was because it was during the time of his death that he joined, so I didn’t retain the name. Speaking of Diallo, from an early age, from tricycles to motorcycles, cars, he loved vehicles. I never worried about him behind the wheel because he was an excellent driver, although accidents happen, his personality was similar to mine. He was pretty explorative, he asked a lot of questions, he would dialogue with you, he liked a good debate. If he wasn’t able to help me around, he would find someone that could help him help me with chores, cutting the grass, hauling something away, that kind of thing. He was a pretty smart student but he was kind of like the class clown, he kept people laughing. And then he went on to be an excellent father. He was respected by his children’s teachers, they attended his service, spoke highly of him, his children miss him, they were young but they had a strong bond and relationship with their father and they’re glad for what I’m doing.
Is there any video of the incident? Were there any eyewitnesses?
Gilda Baker
There were eyewitnesses. I’m trying to encourage one of the ladies who I still have a phone number for and I spoke to her recently, I’m trying to encourage her to come to the rally on Diallo’s birthday to speak about what she saw. There were witnesses who worked in the area, who didn’t see the actual impact, but they saw the CHP motorcycle following my son. One guy in particular who worked at an ice cream parlor left his job pretty quickly after that happened. I don’t know why, but my daughter in law was in contact, or knew someone who knew him. So there were witnesses.
Why are you now, after so many years, fighting for justice?
Gilda Baker
Actually, I started seeking justice from day one, but I was turned away and those that were in position to do something about what happened to my son did nothing. It completely confused me, for several years I thought he was in an accident, because that’s what his death certificate said. However, like I said, several years later when I reviewed the information from the police report and God, just imagine how hard that is to read a coroner’s report, a police report for your child, showing that inconsistencies exist in terms of what the coroner said, what the police report said and the private investigator,  first responders, fire departments, all of it points to a cover up by law enforcement because what they say versus what law enforcement said shows law enforcement falsified this police report. I didn’t just get started with this, I’ve been doing this for years because I can’t stop. That was my child, it’s as though the universe is pulling me to do this. When I think about how grueling it was to prepare a civil suit that I had no clue of what I was doing, I mean I was a working woman, I retired, I’m not first in that area so it’s amazing to me when I look back on everything that I did even though it didn’t work out the way that it should’ve because the system is broken. But at one point I was on cellphone preparing documents, and then taking them for printing at the copy center. Because I felt compelled to continue to seek justice for my son because he didn’t deserve what happened to him and he definitely doesn’t deserve the continuing breaking of the law and cover up.
What measures are you taking right now in order to get justice and what is the role of We Stand Together and Open Circle in your fight for justice.
Gilda Baker
Well, at this point there’s a rally which is fine but what I’m hoping is that someone in this circle or even outside of the circle will see what happened here and step in with their expertise to help solve this mystery because I don’t have anyone personally that’s working on trying to find out who that officer is, but I’ve been told that there are people who know how to do that. If they would just come and help me.
Do your friends and family support you? What level of support are you receiving from them and what are you expecting from the rally on October 11?
Gilda Baker
I want to know who killed my son. That’s a degree of closure for me. That would stand the truth and at least I wouldn’t be living like the system has completely failed me and my family. There’s a despondence over the fact that justice has not been served, so there’s not a lot of belief in this system, not only in my family but many people. So whenever they see some level of unity and justice which this rally looks like justice in a way, they’re encouraged. But I think they look to me for direction and that’s the thing that was so tragic for Diallo being gone because he was part of that, that stability in my family for guidance. He had problems in his past but he was a true leader and he had a purpose that he was trying to build which was family. They’re looking to me to lead the way.
Have you taken part in any protests and marches in his name?
Gilda Baker
I’ve been to protests for other people, other victims but not for my son. This will be my first rally for Diallo.
What do you think about the fact that today more people are involved in the anti-police brutality movement? Is it because of cases like what happened to Diallo?
Gilda Baker
Yes, definitely. In 2005, there were no camera phones and if there were, they weren’t as popular, weren’t being used like they are today. Now whether or not there was some type of cameras out in that area, I don’t know and wouldn’t have known to ask, being a mother who’s lost her child and not in that field of investigation. I do think that that private investigator would’ve found out if there were. But they’ve left so much doubt that I don’t know what the law enforcement concealed. I feel very connected with the community now in this process, although the reason for it is tragic. People often say, “Well, Black people kill each other.” But police are hired to protect us, so they’re supposed to catch the killer. They put it back on people of color to solve their own crimes and that’s what they did to me. I’m the mother of the person who was killed and they put it in me to figure out what happened to my child, and that’s just not fair. I’m sure that’s what’s happened in so many cases, because they cover up. They shouldn’t be allowed to do that.
What would you like to say to our readers? What would you say to invite them to participate in this rally?
Gilda Baker
Please come out. Please give out resources not only to help me, but to help our young people to have a life in this world, let’s lift their heads, lift their dignity, to a point where they can ask questions, they can rely on systems that we’ve put in place to protect and serve them. Let’s get together and make sure that that’s what we leave behind for our young people. I personally want to know who killed my son for his children and not only for them, for all children to know that justice can be served.

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