Wichita, KS – In December of 2017, police responded to a prank call, also known as a "swatting," at the home of Andrew Finch. This prank call was made by a man named Tyler Barriss who did not know Finch but who led the police to his home anyway. When the entirely innocent and unarmed father answered the door during the raid, Officer Justin Rapp was recorded on video killing him in cold blood. After the coverage died down in the press, and as TFTP accurately predicted in January 2018, the Wichita District Attorney quietly announced that there will be no charges. After letting the cop who did the actual shooting off with no charges, the person who made the phone call has been sentenced to 20 years.
Tyler Barriss, 26, of Los Angeles, California, pleaded guilty last November in U.S. District Court in Wichita, Kansas, to charges stemming from the December 2017 incident as well as dozens of similar hoax calls in which no one was hurt, according to Reuters. And on Friday, he was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
"I hope that this prosecution and lengthy sentence sends a strong message that will put an end to the juvenile and reckless practice of 'swatting' within the gaming community, as well as in any other context," U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a statement.
Tyler Barriss is a terrible person and his sentence should be used as an example to prevent further instances like this. He used police like a weapon and sent them to his enemies he made online while gaming.
Given the tendency of police in America to shoot first and ask questions later, Barriss' decision to send a SWAT team to Finch's home was not only irresponsible, but he had a hand in the death of this innocent man. This incredibly dangerous practice deserves to be punished and Barriss deserves to spend those 20 years locked away for what he's done.
While the fact that police were at the home that night is solely due to Barriss' prank call, the fact that Andrew Finch is dead is because a cop pulled the trigger—not Barriss. If the system were truly just, officer Rapp would be facing consequences too. Sadly, that is not the case.
Although Barriss deserved to be held accountable, police simply used his prank call as a means of justifying the murder of an innocent father.
“It’s one year later and the leadership of Wichita and the WPD have failed to take any responsibility for the unjustified, unconstitutional and tragic death of Andy Finch,” Attorney Andrew Stroth wrote in a statement. “Two young children no longer have their father because of a pattern, practice and history of excessive force utilized by the Wichita Police and the unreasonable actions of Officer Justin Rapp.”
Officer Rapp was allowed to kill with impunity, and the rest of the justice system helped to facilitate it by using Barriss as his scapegoat and complete fast-tracking Rapp's exoneration.
According to Kansascity.com, in April 2018, District Attorney Marc Bennett said he had to make a determination based on Kansas law and law handed down by the Supreme Court, which says that when determining if an officer acted reasonably, evidence has to be reviewed based on what the officer knew at the time of the shooting, not 20/20 hindsight, he said.
The DA's office also stated that they kept the officer's name a secret because he will not be charged. However, it would later be learned that the officer who killed this unarmed father of two was Jason Rapp.
However, according to a report out of the Daily Haze, we learned that the DA never once even spoke to Rapp before ruling him justified in Finch's death. This was in spite of the fact that, on multiple occasions, Rapp gave conflicting testimonies about seeing a gun and how the situation unfolded that night.
As the Daily Haze reports:
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When defense attorney Bradley Sylvester asked Rapp during his testimony if he saw a gun in Finch’s hand, he responded “no”.
Despite the discrepancies in Rapp’s statements, in April Bennett made the rushed and unexpected decision to declare the shooting justified. Bennett’s office kept it very quiet that a decision had been made. Local media did not even know what the last minute press conference was about. Now one year later, a source close to the case has confirmed to TDH that Bennett never interviewed Rapp before deciding the shooting was justified. TDH reached out to Bennett’s office for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of this article being published.
The Finch family found the news extremely disturbing. For a family that already feels as if the City of Wichita gave no justice in the murder of their loved one, to hear Bennett did not even demonstrate due diligence when justifying the shooting was a devastating blow to find out a year later.
As TFTP reported at the time, Finch, 28, was shot and killed for the 'crime' of opening his front door when a slew of SWAT team members arrived at his home and claimed that he “reached towards his waistband,” possibly preparing to retrieve a weapon. However, the father of two was unarmed, and the reason officers were at this house had nothing to do with him.
Finch was shot 10 seconds after he opened the door.
"Shots fired. One Down. Confirming. It's the suspect?" dispatch asks.
"Don't know," a WPD sergeant responds, according to a report released by Bennett.
The 911 call was placed by Barriss, a person who had never met Finch and who lived nearly 1,400 miles away in Los Angeles, California. Barriss has a history of “swatting,” or calling 911 to file a false report about a fake emergency that includes murder or hostages, prompting the deployment of a SWAT Team. While the FBI claims that around 400 swatting incidents occur each year, reports claim that Barriss has made a significant contribution and has spent time in jail for making fake bomb threats.
Before Finch, Barris had made dozens of swatting calls and not a single one of them ever ended in the death of an innocent unarmed person -- until Jason Rapp responded.
In fact, Barriss even went by the username “SWAuTistic” online. He made a call to police on Dec. 28, 2017 claiming that he had just murdered his father, and was holding his mother and brother at gunpoint, after covering the house in gasoline with the intent to set it on fire. Barriss used Finch’s residence, which had been given out during an argument on a Call of Duty game online that neither Barriss, nor Finch, were involved with directly.
Despite the fact that police should have been able to see that Barriss was not located in the state of Kansas when he made the call, they took his claims seriously and deployed a SWAT team to the residence.
Barriss was arrested on a felony warrant shortly after police killed Finch. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter for Finch's death, giving false alarm, and interfering with law enforcement. Last November, he pleaded guilty to 51 charges related to similar incidents, which, as stated above, never led to the death of anyone.
“This is one of the most egregious police shooting cases in the country. Andy Finch was in the sanctity of his own home, opens up his front door and is shot and killed within seconds by officer Justin Rapp with a high-powered rifle from approximately 44 yards away,” Stroth said. “It’s unimaginable.”
The murder of Andrew Finch was tragic, and while Tyler Barriss should be held accountable for his actions, that should not take away from the fact that a police officer shot and killed a man who never once threatened their lives or tried to hurt them.