The man who shot 17-year-old Bidal Taito to death on 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 in Los Banos.
Prosecutors believe Taito, along with suspects Brandon Lippincott, 18, and a 15-year-old male, were attempting to burglarize the residence on West K Street in Los Banos, when the resident fatally shot Taito.
Morse and law enforcement have not released the name of the shooter, citing 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 California Department of Justice.
Lippincott and the 15-year-old will probably be arraigned in Merced County Superior Court next week.
Morse said the pair were with Taito in an alley near the 100 block of West K Street on July 20.
According to prosecutors' version of events, a Los Banos police detective determined the trio met at Taito’s residence earlier that day and planned the burglary of the West K Street home, according to Morse.
During the meeting, Lippincott allegedly produced a loaded .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol. 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, who’s only been identified 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, 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.
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.
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.
The Rev. Mychael Williams, 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 DOJ reports the 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.
Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.