MERCED, CA – David Hunter Burkhart had recently turned all of 17 years before his passing on March 9th, 2018. A good son, brother and father to his one-year old child, David was truly the light in every room he walked into. Always with a smile on his handsome face. David lived each and everyday of his life in his favorite ways, enjoying every minute of it. If you’ve been blessed to meet or even befriend David during his short life, you could not help but fall in love with him and his character. How could this young man’s life lost go unreported by the Merced PD?
Since the story of David’s passing was posted, thousands of people have read and been affected by the lack of care or concern by the Merced PD to fully investigate this case. So I called Merced PD again today and asked to speak with Det. Russell. But again I had to leave a voice message. I called back and askd to speak with Cpt. West and this was our conversation regarding the Merced PD’s work on this case so far.
MATTHEW: Hi Captain West, I’m calling to find out why the mother has not been able to get a return call from Det. Russell.
CPT. WEST: They’ve been wanting to get a statement from her for a long time and they don’t have her phone number to contact her they said, which is odd. The plan is to meet with her on Wednesday morning. In speaking with the Lieutenant he said that he’s gonna try to make sure she is contacted today to get that setup to meet with the investigators and that’s on Wednesday morning. But what she can do is contact the Lt. Don King and if she calls in ask her to speak with Lt. King, he will also be in that meeting when she comes.
We definitely want to solve this case and we don’t want anything to be slipped through the cracks on this particular case.
MATTHEW: So is there any public information that will be released to at least give the basic details to the public regarding this case? I mean some people are literally questioning this family’s motives for collecting money for a funeral.
CPT. WEST: One of the things I was told is that they’re still investigating this case and there are particular things they are doing through the Department of Justice regarding this particular case that I cannot go into right now. The Lt. is supposing to be getting something out and posted in regards to the death of the young man. My understanding is that they are not calling it a suicide and they’re not calling it a homicide at this time. It is currently being considered a suspicious death and the investigators are waiting until they get all of the information back from the coroners office before making the final determination. And also waiting on DOJ to see what they come back with.
MATTHEW: What about the concerns of the parents that a known gang member, Andrew Massengale, had a firearm in his possession and hasn’t been arrested on anything yet. They would like to know how that can happen?
CPT. WEST: Well without all the information in; it could mean a premature arrest, which could lead to the suspect being released by the court. The DA has 72 hours to file charges once the person has been arrested. But if all the information is not in like the coroner’s office and the DOJ that means the report is not complete. Once all the information is in, and its got to be factual, then they can actually arrest someone and it will be a solid arrest without the court having to release them. That’s why in some cases, not all of them, but we hope that this doesn’t result in a case that is going to take very long to come to a conclusion. But in some cases because of the amount of work it can take years without an arrest being made. The people may get by but they not going to get away. But the way it works in court, if all the facts are not in and a decision is made to arrest the person then the person cannot be retried.
MATTHEW: And why is the case being sent to the Merced County DA’s office to decide whether to file charges or not when one of those who may be involved in or linked to the case is the DA’s son’s best friend and possibly his own son? Shouldn’t the Police Chief call the California Attorney General’s office and ask them to take over once the investigation is complete and charges are warranted? Because he could actually again get involved with the case like he did with his son’s last murder case and sway or alter witness testimony.
CPT. WEST: Well with this particular case his offices’ investigators will investigate and he would not be involved unless of course he wanted to prosecute the case.
MATTHEW: But doesn’t the police department see the obvious problem here? I mean the sheriff’s took their case to AG’s office when the DA’s son was linked to a homicide. Now we do know the PD investigators have confirmed that Massengale is one of those on the video and he is the one who is saying they were playing a game and the shooting was accidental. But one can only assume that you wouldn’t leave the scene of an accidental shooting or your friend to die. Then there’s the driver that the PD says they can’t ID. We have another person who allegedly saw the video stated that it is definitely a white male that looks like Ethan Morse.
CPT. WEST: I can tell you this for sure, if his son or son’s are connected to this they will be arrested.
MATTHEW: Well sir, with all due respect, that just is not true and I personally have the proof. A report came in about Ryan and Ethan Morse hanging out with some friends around 11 or 12 at night at their family’s law firm Morse, Morse and Morse. They were drinking and started playing with a firearm. Even pointing it at each other. One of the kids called his mom and told her he was scared he was going to be shot because they were drinking and getting more and more dangerous. The mother called the Merced PD who arrived and instead of searching for the firearm and investigating if anyone was actually threatened or shot, they sent everyone home for the night and no report was ever filed. But thanks to a great law enforcement officer a screenshot was captured of the incident and sent over to me to archive as proof that the Merced PD will not touch the Morse family or their friends.
CPT. WEST: The ummm, the investigators.., they are going to go after this Morse kid if he is linked to this homicide. If it is determined that Morse’ kid is involved then the interim Chief would get in touch with the AG. And I’ll tell you what Mr. Gonzales, I will not tolerate that in our department. We have to be open and transparent. And if they aren’t they wont be here, they will be fired
MATTHEW: Okay well thank you so much Cpt. West for taking the time to speak with me and to inform the public of what you can for now. We very much look forward to the Lt releasing the public statement ASAP and I’ll have Mrs. Burkhart call you now to make those arrangements.
CPT. WEST: Take care Mr. Gonzales. It’s always a pleasure top talk with you. I will also sit in on those meetings with Mrs Burkhart to ensure all of her concerns are addressed by our investigators.