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Crime and Courts

Officer Who Fired Fatal Shot In Swatting Case Testifies

Stephan Bisaha
Kansas News Service/File photo

The man accused of making a swatting call that led to a fatal police shooting in Wichita was bound over for trial following a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Sedgwick County Court.

Among those testifying in Tuesday's hearing was the officer who fired the fatal shot.

Officer Justin Rapp responded to the Dec. 28 false emergency call last year. He had heard over dispatch that a man had shot his father and was holding his mother and younger sibling hostage.

Rapp testified that he knew what he was hearing from dispatch could be inaccurate, but that it was his duty to treat the threat as real.

“I have to believe the information I’m given until proven otherwise,” Rapp said.

That night, Andrew Finch open his front door to at least 15 waiting officers. Rapp had been ordered to provide cover and support with his rifle.

After Finch raised his hands to his ears, Rapp said he saw Finch drop his hands to his waist. Rapp thought Finch was drawing a gun and squaring himself in the direction of other officers, which caused Rapp to fire and kill Finch. Finch was unarmed.

Tyler Barriss, the man accused of making the fake emergency call from Los Angeles, sat in the courtroom. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter, along with charges of giving a false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer. His next court appearance is scheduled for June.

Los Angeles Police Detective Edward Dorroh testified that he conducted an interview with Barriss after Barriss was arrested for the false call. Dorroh spends about a third of his time working on swatting cases, with some of those past cases involving Barriss.

Dorroh said he recognized Barriss’ “fairly distinctive voice” in the recording of the fake emergency call in Wichita and that Barriss admitted making the call during a police interview.

Barriss had previously taken steps to avoid being caught by using virtual private networks, or VPNs, to hide his location, according to Dorroh. But he was frustrated with the lag the VPNs made in the phone call. He decided to instead use a local library’s Wi-Fi, which helped lead officers to him.

In closing arguments, District Attorney Marc Bennett said Barriss’ actions ultimately led to Finch’s death.

“Very simply put, Mr. Barriss set this into motion,” Bennett said.

Barriss' attorney, Bradley Sylvester, declined to give closing arguments.

Stephan Bisaha reports on education for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @SteveBisaha. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.