Police obtain video, need to interview more witnesses before submitting case to D.A.

Taft Police have released the suspect arrested in connection with the death of a Taft man Saturday night in the 600 block of Center Street.

Chief of Police Ed Whiting said this morning that officers obtained a video that shows most of the incident where Billy Joe Burell was fatally injured and they need to interview more witnesses seen in the video before forwarding a report to the Kern County District Attorney's Office.

Lyndon Faagau, 24, had been held on a murder charge sine he was arrested.
Burell, 42, died after he was pushed to the ground about 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

Burell and Faagau were both part of an altercation that involved several individuals, and Whiting didn't rule out the possibility of more arrests in connection with the case

He struck his head when he fell to the asphalt in the middle of the 600 block of Center.

Whiting said police obtained a video of the incident on Sunday.
The video was shot by a patron at Buckolies, 621 Center Street, and Whiting said that's where the incident started, contradicting a statement made by one of the bar's co-owners.

The video shows much of the incident and also shows that more people witnessed the events leading up to Burell's death.

“It doesn't show the entire incident,” Whiting said Monday morning. “It does show a good majority of the incident including the part where the victim is knocked down. What is clear from the video is there are more witnesses and more witnesses need to be interviewed.”

Police are asking anyone who witnessed the incident to contact them at 763-3101.

Faagau was released Sunday afternoon.

“We don't believe he is a danger to others and we don't believe him to be a flight risk,” Whiting said.

Faagau will probably be charged in the case, Whiting said, but probably not with murder.

“It may be something closer to manslaughter than to murder,” he said. “Murder may not be the appropriate charge.”

Whiting said police aren't concerned that Faagau is a danger, but there are concerns for his safety and his family's safety.

Burell's family asked that no action be taken.

“The Taft Police Department was contacted by the victim's family members (Monday) and they are concerned about possible retaliation against the suspect. The family asked that no one act against the suspect and to let the investigation continue until it can be reviewed by the District Attorney for the appropriate charges. The family does not wish anyone else to be hurt by this incident.”