Los Banos prosecutors defend teen shooting as justified

MERCED, Calif.

The controversy surrounding a deadly shooting in Los Banos continues and family members are now defending the teen who authorities say provoked the gunfire.

The District Attorney recently announced his office will not file charges against the man who fatally shot 17-year-old Bidal Taito. He says the shooting was justified because it happened as Taito and two other teens were breaking into the man's home.

One of those young suspects appeared in court on Wednesday, and Action News spoke with his brother after the hearing.

Brandon Lippincott appeared in court over a video monitor for his bail review hearing Wednesday afternoon. Investigators say the 18-year-old brought a semi-automatic pistol as he, Bidal Taito, and an unnamed 15-year-old tried to break into a Los Banos home on July 20th.

The man living at the home then fired at the teens, killing Taito.

Lippincott's brother, Stephen, believes authorities are trying to shift the blame because the shooter is the son of a former Los Banos Police Department employee. "They're trying to cover up his tracks and stuff like that, but I believe we'll get to the bottom of this, and justice will be served."

The District Attorney's Office says a thorough investigation by police and the Department of Justice showed the shooting was justified. Prosecutors say surveillance video captured two of the teens "casing" the home earlier in the day. The resident later called 911 to report intruders trying to get in -- before opening fire through a partially opened door.

Authorities say Lippincott and Taito had entered or attempted to enter the home, and their pistol was found near the spot where Taito collapsed in the alley.

"Mr. Taito and 2 other juveniles were involved in a residential burglary, and one of the most fundamental tenants of the law is that a person is entitled to use force, including deadly force to protect their home," said Larry Morse, Merced County District Attorney.

Taito's friends and family members are still angry the shooter was not arrested. His mother told me there is no way to justify the fact her son was shot in the back. She also believes the other two teens should be charged with murder for putting her son in harm's way.

"I know this is a mom whose heart is broken, and she's lost her son. Our job is to evaluate all the circumstances and decide what if any criminal involvement is appropriate."

Both of the teenage suspects are charged with first degree burglary, attempted robbery, and conspiracy to commit robbery. Lippincott recently turned 18 and is being tried as an adult. The 15 year old will be prosecuted in juvenile court.

Taito's mother says she's now looking into a wrongful death lawsuit.

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