- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Relatives of Andrew Finch, the Kansas man fatally shot by Wichita police during a “swatting” prank gone wrong last month, have sued the city and several officers involved in his death.

Finch’s mother and sister filed suit in Kansas federal court Monday seeking damages from the city of Wichita and 10 police officers over the Dec. 28 incident.

Police shot and killed Finch, 28, while responding to a hoax 911 call placed by someone claiming hostages were being held inside his home, making the young father of two the first reported fatality of a prank colloquially known as “swatting.”

Tyler Barriss, 25, was subsequently accused of placing the prank call and currently faces criminal charges of involuntary manslaughter, giving a false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer.

Wichita and the responding officers should be held responsible as well, according to Finch’s family, and an attorney is now seeking damages from the city in excess of $75,000 over the botched response.

“The family wants that young man held criminally responsible, but let’s be very clear about what happened,” Andrew Stroth, the family’s attorney, told ABC News. “The swatter didn’t shoot the bullet that killed Andy Finch. Responsibility for that case resides in that officer that used his high-powered rifle to shoot and kill Andy.”

“The family wants justice and reform — they want to make sure Andy’s legacy means something and maybe some other family won’t have to experience the tragedy they are experiencing because of a change in policy and procedures,” Mr. Stroth told CBS News.

The lawsuit alleges the police used excessive force in shooting Finch, and that the responding officers illegally detained his relatives in the aftermath of the incident in violation of their constitutional right to due process.

“The Wichita Police Department has officers called Crisis Intervention Team Officers (CIT Officers) who are specifically trained to deal with mentally ill citizens and deescalate situations by using specific de-escalating techniques,” Mr. Stroth wrote in the lawsuit. None of the responding officers involved in Finch’s killing were specifically trained to de-escalate situations by using deescalating techniques, he wrote.

“How can Wichita police department officers not be trained to deal with this type of situation,” he asked CBS. “Swatting is not new, prank calls are not new.”
Wichita said that the incident remains under review.

“City of Wichita and WPD officials have great sympathy for those impacted by the reckless behavior exemplified by ‘swatting’ which created the circumstances which resulted in this death,” the city said in a statement. “The City learned that a lawsuit has been filed less than one month after this incident. After the City is served with the lawsuit, it will be reviewed and an appropriate response filed.”

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett previously said he is weighing whether to bring charges against any members of the Wichita police in connection with the incident. Mr. Barriss is currently being held in California and is expected to be extradited to Kansas next month.

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