The family of a man who was killed by police during a swatting prank wants the officer who pulled the trigger charged as a criminal.
Andrew Finch, 28, was shot and killed by Wichita police last week. Officers were responding to a prank call that claimed a hostage situation was unfolding at Finch’s residence.
The officer who opened fire “should be held liable and held accountable for the unjustified shooting of Andrew Finch,” the family’s attorney Andrew M. Stroth told CNN on Tuesday. “The city of Wichita and the Police Department are liable because of their policies and practices as it relates to this shooting. Swatting is not new, just like prank calling is not new.”
Finch’s mother, Lisa Finch, wrote a letter to Mayor Jeff Longwell, police Chief Gordon Ramsay and other city officials. She asked for information regarding police training protocols for “swatting” pranks. She also asked to see the body of her son. And to have her front door, a computer, two cellphones, a video game and other items returned to her, according to the Associated Press.
“It goes without saying that our family is devastated by what has happened,” she wrote. “What cannot go without saying is why Wichita City leadership is compounding our grief and sorrow, by keeping my son from us? Please let me see my son’s lifeless body. I want to hold him and say goodbye. Please immediately return his body to us.”
Swatting is a prank in the online gaming community in which a fake 911 call is made to police asking them to come to the victim’s home. In this incident, Los Angeles resident Tyler Barriss is suspected of making the call after a dispute during a Call of Duty game. He allegedly phoned Wichita police and claimed to have shot his father in the head. He also claimed to be holding his mother and sibling at gunpoint.
Andrew Finch opened the door to SWAT officers, who told him to put his hands up and move slowly. Deputy Chief Troy Livingston told reporters last week that Finch moved a hand toward the area of his waistband. Then, an officer shot him.
While Finch’s family believes the officer and the department should be charged for this incident, criminologist B. Remy Cross at Webster University in Missouri told the AP that criminal charges are unlikely.
“It is sort of a fact of the world we live in now that it is very difficult to bring charges against police officers unless there is glaring negligence and misconduct,” Cross said. “While I certainly sympathize with the family — and I think there was probably not the necessary due caution exercised in this incident — I don’t know that they are going to necessarily be very successful in pushing for charges to be brought against the officer.”
It isn’t clear that Finch was even involved in the original dispute. Lisa Finch told CNN that her son didn’t even play video games.
Burris is expected to be extradited to Kansas where he will face charges.