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911 'swatting' prank excuses officer's fatal shooting

By R. Bailey

A Kansas district attorney ("DA") determined that a Wichita SWAT team acted reasonably when it fatally shot an innocent, unarmed father in his own home while responding to a “swatting” or 911 prank call made from Los Angeles, California.

The FBI reportedly responds to almost 400 swatting pranks per year. On December 28, 2017, Andrew Finch, a 28-year-old Wichita father of two, lost his life due to such a prank.

Tyler Barriss, a 25-year-old Los Angeles man, made a swatting call to the Wichita Police Department (WPD) 1,400 miles away and reported that, as a resident of that address, he had just murdered his father and was holding his mother and brother hostage at the home.

Barriss was no stranger to swatting; in fact, his online username was “SwauTstic,” and he had a history of swatting and false bomb threats. He had chosen Finch’s address simply because it had appeared in an online game called End of Duty. Neither he nor Finch was connected to the game.

Although the call could have been identified as an out-of-state call, the absence of policies and procedures to verify the caller’s ID and validity of an emergency allowed SWAT to be dispatched to the home ready to act.

Finch was “executed” within 10 seconds of opening his door for the SWAT team, according to a lawsuit filed by attorney Andrew Stroth on behalf of Finch’s family. District Attorney Marc Bennett deemed the shooting reasonable because the team was responding to an emergency and Finch evoked a real fear when he “reached towards his waistband.”

Barriss was charged with involuntary manslaughter as the prank caller, but Stroth argued that the response represented an absence of accountability for the officers who killed an unarmed man who never posed a threat to them.


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