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NATHAN OLIVAREZ-GILES
Los Angeles Times

A teenager was found guilty Monday in the 2006 shooting death of Oceanside Police Officer Dan Bessant.
Penifoti Taeotui, 18, was convicted of first-degree murder, said Julie Myers, a spokeswoman for San Diego County Superior Court.
Taeotui also was found guilty of shooting at Bessant and another officer "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang" and using a semi-automatic rifle during in the shooting, according to court documents.
The shooting took place on Dec. 21, 2006, when Bessant arrived as backup for Officer Karina Pina, who had pulled over a car carrying six passengers at the intersection of Gold Drive and Arthur Avenue in Oceanside.
Bessant and Pina were outside of their patrol cars when they were fired upon from behind by Taeotui and at least one other suspected gang member.
Bessant was hit in the armpit, an area not protected by his bulletproof vest, and the bullet traveled into his chest.
Pina, who had been an officer for eight months at the time, fired back in the direction of the shooters before calling for paramedics when she realized Bessant was wounded.
Taeotui was not in the stopped car but fired on the officers from a home in a nearby neighborhood, according to trial documents.
Bessant, 25, died at a hospital, leaving behind a wife and a 2-month-old son.
Taeotui, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, could face up to life in prison without parole when he is sentenced Jan. 12.
Prosecutors argued that Taeotui and at least one other suspected gang member killed Bessant because they were looking to gain status in their gang, according to the Associated Press.
Meki Gaono is accused of being the other shooter and will stand trial in January for allegedly firing the shot that killed Bessant, according to the Associated Press.

Story From: Los Angeles Times
 
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