LOS BANOS — The man who shot 17-year-old Bidal Taito to death July 20 at a Los Banos home will not face criminal charges, Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II said Friday.
In addition, Morse's office has filed felony robbery and burglary charges against two male teenagers who were with Taito the night he was fatally shot.
Prosecutors believe Taito, Brandon Lippincott, 18, and a 15-year-old male were attempting to burglarize the residence on West K Street when the homeowner fatally shot Taito.
Morse and law enforcement officials have not released the name of the shooter, saying he was the intended target of the attempted burglary.
Lippincott and the juvenile were charged Thursday in Merced County Superior Court with conspiracy to commit robbery, attempted robbery and first-degree burglary after an investigation by Los Banos police and the California Department of Justice.
Lippincott and the 15-year-old are expected to be arraigned in Merced County Superior Court next week.
According to the prosecutor's version of events, a Los Banos police detective determined the trio met at Taito's residence earlier in the day and planned the burglary of the West K Street home.
According to the detective, Lippincott produced a loaded .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol during the meeting. The detective reported Lippincott and Taito donned one glove each to handle the pistol. A video surveillance camera filmed Lippincott and the other juvenile "casing" the residence, Morse said.
The three juveniles met later that evening and went to the West K Street residence. The occupant of the West K Street residence arrived home moments before the three juveniles approached the house.
The resident, identified only as a relative of a former Los Banos police employee, later told police he was startled by banging on the outside of his house. When he looked toward his front door from his bedroom, he saw someone trying to enter his front door.
He grabbed his cell phone and his .40-caliber handgun and called 911.
As he was on the phone, he saw an intruder enter his home. "Lippincott went in first, and he must have discovered someone was home. Taito went in second," Morse said.
According to police, Lippincott had turned to leave the home and the occupant saw Taito walking through the door. The occupant saw Taito wearing a black hoodie, and also thought he was holding an object. Taito turned to leave, and the occupant of the home fired.
Three bullets went through the door, and Taito was struck once in the lower right side of his back. Morse said Taito was in the area near the door jam on the front stoop of the home when he was hit.
He fled into the adjacent alley, dropping his gloves and a cell phone, according to the district attorney's office. The .22-caliber pistol was found on the ground a short distance away. Taito collapsed in the alley and died at a Modesto hospital shortly after 1 a.m.
Difficult to convict?
The district attorney's office considered pressing charges against Taito's shooter, but Morse said the evidence would likely not result in a conviction.
"(Taito) was hit on the threshold of the door or just beyond the door," Morse said. "It's a dangerous game, and you put your life on the line when you enter somebody's home. There isn't a jury in North America that will convict somebody for defending their home."
Morse declined to state the name of the shooter, saying that revealing his name may place him in danger, given the circumstances of the case.
Taito's loved ones have staged several protests in the weeks since the teen's death. Taito's mother, Corina, couldn't be reached for comment Friday.
The Rev. Mychael Wil- liams, who is assisting the Taito family, said Corina Taito is hurt that no one will be arrested for her son's death. He said she is seeking copies of the police and state DOJ reports that Morse's office reviewed.
Williams said he doesn't believe law enforcement's version of how the shooting occurred.
"If one person sees a gun and runs, why would a second person not run? Why would he go in?" Williams asked.
Los Banos Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.