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DA: No Charges Against Officer Involved In 'Swatting' Shooting

Nadya Faulx

The Wichita Police officer who killed a man during a swatting incident last December will not face criminal charges.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Thursday that there was insufficient evidence to indicate the officer acted improperly.

“To charge [the officer] would require evidence, not 20-20 hindsight,” Bennett said during a news conference.

Andrew Finch was killed Dec. 28 when he stepped onto his porch during a swatting incident, which is a hoax call to 911 intended to draw a large police presence.

The 911 caller told emergency dispatchers that he had killed his father and was thinking of shooting other hostages. That information was relayed to officers at the scene.

“None of the officers knew it was a hoax,” Bennett said. “They thought the man who came outside had killed one person and threatened others.

“What is now clear today was not in that moment.”

Police have said that when Finch came onto his porch, officers told him to put his hands up and move slowly. They said that Finch moved a hand toward the area of his waistband and an officer -- who feared Finch was reaching for a gun -- fired a single shot.

Finch, 28, was unarmed.

Bennett did not identify the officer involved in the shooting. Community activists have appeared regularly at City Council meetings to urge city officials to release the officer’s name.

Finch’s family has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the officers involved in the shooting.

The Kansas Legislature passed a bill – called the Andrew T. Finch Act – that creates harsher penalties for making swatting calls. If someone dies during a swatting incident, the person who made the call could be charged with a homicide. Gov. Jeff Colyer signed the bill into law Thursday.

Similar legislation on the federal level has been introduced by U.S. Rep. Ron Estes of Wichita.

The man accused of making the swatting call in December, Tyler Barriss, remains in the Sedgwick County Jail. Barriss, 25, of Los Angeles, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, giving false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer.

The hoax call reportedly was made after a dispute over a small wager online in a "Call of Duty" online video game tournament, according to Dexerto, a news service focused on gaming.

“This shooting should have not happened,” Bennett said.

Tom Shine, director of News and Public Affairs at KMUW, contributed to this story.

Nadya Faulx is KMUW's Digital News Editor and Reporter, which means she splits her time between working on-air and working online, managing news on KMUW.org, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. She joined KMUW in 2015 after working for a newspaper in western North Dakota. Before that she was a diversity intern at NPR in Washington, D.C.