Men accused of fatal downtown Palo Alto fight appear in court | News | Palo Alto Online |


Men accused of fatal downtown Palo Alto fight appear in court


The two men who were involved in the fatal altercation outside The Patio bar in downtown Palo Alto on Dec. 21, 2014, made their first court appearance on Tuesday morning since the death of the 24-year-old man who died several weeks after the fight.

Neil Brian Rotroff, who police said punched Oleg Talamai, outside the Emerson Street bar, and a Sunnyvale resident*, who drove the group away from the scene, both appeared in the Palo Alto courthouse Tuesday.

This was their first appearance since Jan. 9, when Talamai succumbed to the injuries that police said he sustained after he was punched in the head by Rotroff. Talamai, who was part of a group that engaged in an argument with Rotroff's group, never woke up from the punch and was pronounced dead almost three weeks after the confrontation.

Neither Rotroff, 28, nor the Sunnyvale man said anything during Tuesday's hearing. Through their attorneys, they waived their rights to a preliminary investigation within 60 days of their arrest. Both are now set to appear in court for a plea hearing on March 24.

Rotroff, who initially faced a charge of assault with a deadly weapon, now faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter. The Sunnyvale man faces charges of assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon for allegedly driving his car past two police officers and nearly hitting them. He was also charged with a felony count of accessory to involuntary manslaughter for his role as a getaway driver.

The altercation outside the Patio bar allegedly happened after the two groups engaged in an argument but were ultimately separated by police officers. Later, as the two groups were leaving in different directions, they reportedly exchanged insults, prompting Rotroff's group to confront them once again.

The altercation ended with Rotroff landing a single punch to Talamai's head, knocking him to the ground. Talamai, 24, suffered a fractured skull and bleeding in his brain.

Both Rotroff and the Sunnyvale man posted bail after their arrest and have been out of custody since.

Related content:

Downtown Palo Alto assault leaves man in critical condition

Man dies from injuries sustained in brawl

*Editor's note: The name of the Sunnyvale resident/driver has been removed from this article because the original charge of felony assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon was dismissed and the misdemeanor conviction for being an accessory after the fact was dismissed for constitutional reasons in the interests of justice, pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1385, on Oct. 27, 2016.

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5 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 20, 2015 at 11:49 am

One of the guys claim it's a situation where they were drunk and that's why this happened. Take a look at that tear drop tattoo and tell me that's all it was.

2 people like this
Posted by The Messenger
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm

50,000 Americans die annually directly from the side-effects of alcohol and another 35,000 die from avoidable travesties like these and car accidents induced by alcohol consumption. Every weekend there are several fights in our downtowns that are a result of alcohol intoxication but we continue to glorify liquor every holiday and allow it to be readily available on every retail zoned corner. In 10,000 years of worldwide consumption 0 individuals have ever died from cannabis ingestion and in over a decade I have never heard of a single fight inside or outside of a cannabis dispensary. In fact since the enactment of medical cannabis laws in 1997 the states violent crime rate has plummeted to a 40 year low and a 50 year low in Los Angeles where the most collectives in the entire country exist. A city with just cannabis collectives is leaps and bounds safer than a city with just bars. Anyone who would state otherwise is disregarding science and history. This young man would likely still be alive if all those involved were not drinking alcohol and even more likely if they were smoking or eating cannabis instead. People walk out of bars as enemies while patients walk out of collectives as friends. May you all reach this awareness and end ignorance hatred suffering and senseless deaths.

5 people like this
Posted by Fishy Story
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 20, 2015 at 3:40 pm

The accused' s story sounds fishy. Apparently, the victim was Ukrainian, the assailant is Russian: there may have been a racial motive, since the two are like oil and water.

Friends who knew the assailant in high school say that he was bad news, always in trouble, a loose cannon, etc. It seems like the consequences of his quick temper have caught up to him at last.

How does someone slug someone so hard in the head that it is heard a block away, and not break his hand?

1 person likes this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Maybe the accused can get Jamie Foxx to testify on their behalf.

Blame it on the Goose
Gotcha feeling loose
Blame it on the 'Trón
Catch me in a zone
Blame it on the a-a-alcohol
Blame it on the a-a-alcohol

Blame it on the vodka
Blame it on the Henny
Blame it on the blue tap
Got you feeling dizzy
Blame it on the a-a-alcohol
Blame it on the a-a-alcohol

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