LOS BANOS — Nearly two months after Bidal Taito, 17, suffered a gunshot wound that took his life, police may be close to deciding whether the shooter will be arrested.
Police Chief Gary Brizzee said a decision will be made "soon."
He said part of Taito's autopsy report is completed, but police are still waiting on a toxicology report. Brizzee said he is waiting on the California Department of Justice report as well. The department worked with police to re-create the scene of the shooting.
"That entire report, DOJ's and ours, will be sent to the district attorney," Brizzee said.
The Merced County district attorney's office will decide whether to pursue charges. The Police Department decides whether there's cause for an arrest.
Taito died at a Modesto hospital hours after collapsing from a gunshot in an alleyway near the 100 block of West K Street on July 20. Police said they responded to an emergency call from a male resident reporting someone was trying to kick in his door. Moments later, he told the dispatcher that he had shot the person and needed help. He shot through his wood door, police said. Taito was struck in the back.
The Rev. Mychael Williams, who is assisting the Taito family, said relatives and friends of the teen are anxiously waiting for a decision by police. Taito's family and friends have staged several protests in the nearly seven weeks since the teen's death. Williams said it is a way to keep Taito's death in the public's eye.
Brizzee said he understands families seeking justice for their loved one, but he cannot let that affect the investigation.
"In my mind, in order to have justice you have to have the truth. It's been a tough investigation for us, because we want to be as open and honest with the family as possible," Brizzee said, "but we value the integrity of the investigation so much that me and the people I work with are not willing to jeopardize that in an attempt to make anyone happy."
Law enforcement has not identified Taito's shooter, saying only that the person is a relative of a former employee of the Los Banos Police Department.
Williams said anything less than an arrest will be unacceptable to the family. He said Taito's friends and family have spoken with the shooter's neighbors and concluded that the story given to police is inaccurate. Williams said attorneys have been contacted on the family's behalf and are prepared to seek legal action.
Los Banos Enterprise Reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or firstname.lastname@example.org.