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No Charges for Officer Who Killed Victim of 'Swatting' Prank

Andrew Finch's family has filed a civil suit
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 12, 2018 6:57 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Kansas police officer who fired the shot that killed a man during a hoax emergency call will not face criminal charges, a prosecutor announced Thursday. District Attorney Marc Bennett said there was reasonable concern at the time that Andrew Finch may have been armed with a weapon, the AP reports. The unarmed 28-year-old Wichita man was shot Dec. 28 by police responding to a California man's fake calls about a killing and kidnapping at Finch's home. The person who called said he shot his father in the head and was holding his mother and little brother at gunpoint in a closet in the house. The shooting drew national attention to a practice called "swatting," in which a person makes up a false report to get emergency responders to descend on an address. The officer who fired the shot, identified only as "officer number one" was stationed across the street, and fired believing Finch was reaching for a weapon when he moved his arm, Bennett said.

"This shooting should not have happened," Bennett said. "But this officer's decision was made in the context of the false call. To charge 'officer number one' would require evidence, not 20/20 hindsight, that it was unreasonable for him to believe in that moment that the man who came to the door posed a risk to the officers near the house." Finch's family believes Wichita city leaders and the officers are responsible for his death, their lawyer said. Police failed to vet the swatting call, the Finch house did not match the description given by the caller, and there was no hostage situation or criminal activity taking place in the home. The family has filed a civil rights lawsuit. Tyler Barriss, 25, of Los Angeles has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly making the deadly swatting call. The Wichita police department has outlined a series of "next steps" it is taking regarding the incident, and Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer has signed legislation that will increase the penalties for making hoax emergency calls when they lead to the injuries or deaths of others.

(Read more swatting stories.)

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