SWAT

Prank SWAT Call May Have Led to Wichita Police Killing a Random Man on His Own Doorstep

Don't ignore the roles militarization and trigger-happy law enforcement tactics play.

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Finch family
Wichita Eagle video

Thursday night, Wichita, Kansas, Police sent out a SWAT team to respond to a 911 call that a man shot his father and was holding his family hostage in their home.

The telephone call was a lie. There was no hostage situation—but nevertheless a man at the home ended up dead, shot and killed by a police officer at his own front door.

Police right now are being tight-lipped about what actually happened at the home of the dead man, identified by relatives as Andrew Finch, 28, as the circumstances are still under investigation. Police did say they don't believe Finch fired on police officers before they shot him, according to the Wichita Eagle. His family says he was not armed.

It seems likely that this was the outcome of a "swatting" prank that has finally reached its inevitable awful conclusion. "Swatting" is a nasty prank where somebody calls 911 and tells police a violent crime or hostage situation is happening at somebody else's home. Police then show up with weapons to bear and end up terrifying an innocent party who is not doing anything at all. Often times the swatters use tech tools to conceal or change their number so that it appears to be local and credible.

Swatting pranks often have ties to the video gaming community, and that may well be the case here. Though, again, it's still too soon to say for sure, the Eagle reports that the prank may have originated as part of a dispute between Call of Duty gamers. Based on a Twitter fight, it appears one gamer may have given another gamer a false address, that of Finch's family, and that's where the police were sent. Finch's relatives told the Eagle that he didn't play video games, so if these facts are true, he wasn't even a party to this dispute.

Finch's family told the media this afternoon that Finch was not armed and that he had gone to the door to see what was going on yesterday when he saw all the flashing lights. Apparently the family had no idea they were the raid's target. Lisa Finch, Andrew's mother, told the Eagle the police then raided the house after shooting her son. They were all handcuffed and taken to the police station for interviews.

The family is furious not just at the prankster who got Andrew killed but at the police as well:

"What gives the cops the right to open fire?" Finch asked. "Why didn't they give him the same warning they gave us? That cop murdered my son over a false report."

Finch and Hernandez-Caballero said they want to see the officer—identified only as a seven-year veteran of the department—and the person who made the false report held accountable.

No doubt there's going to be a lot of attention on the prank call that sent the SWAT team out to the Finch home, but we absolutely must not forget that it's the police who decided how to behave when they got there.

As far back as 2014 I was warning that the overmilitarization of our police departments helps makes pranks like this become dangerously violent mechanisms that can get out of hand. As I noted back then in response to another game-related swatting prank:

These reactions are exactly the kinds of things swatters are hoping for. Because the police have developed this reputation for violent, over-the-top reactions to everything, they are actually reinforcing the value of using swatting as a way to torment others.

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102 responses to “Prank SWAT Call May Have Led to Wichita Police Killing a Random Man on His Own Doorstep

  1. Fitch’s family told the media this afternoon that Fitch

    I thought you were better than this Shackintosh.

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  2. Don’t wanna be a thug, don’t be havin’ no address like a thug.

    1. We can’t all be like you.

  3. Livingston said the department received a call that someone had an argument with their mother, that the father had been shot in the head and the shooter was holding his mother, brother and sister hostage.

    “That was the information we were working off of,” he said.
    Officers went to the 1000 block of McCormick, preparing for a hostage situation and they “got into position,” he said.

    “A male came to the front door,” Livingston said. “As he came to the front door, one of our officers discharged his weapon.”

    Livingston didn’t say if the man, who was 28, had a weapon when he came to the door, or what caused the officer to shoot the man. Police don’t think the man fired at officers, but the incident is still under investigation, he said. The man, who has not been identified by police, died at a local hospital.

    A family member identified that man who was shot by police as Andrew Finch. One of Finch’s cousins said Finch didn’t play video games.

    “This call was little peculiar for us,” Livingston said. “(The call) went to a substation first, then it was relayed to dispatch, then dispatch gave it to us. We have a lot of information to go through.”

    Livingston went on to say, “all I know is we aren’t responsible in any way for any thing. Ever.”

    1. “As he came to the front door, one of our officers discharged his weapon.”

      I’ll bet $50 that this douche regularly gets kicked out of matches for excessive TKs.

      1. This spokesman needs more training. The proper phrasing is “…a weapon was discharged.” Either that or it’s a small, tiny step in the direction of finally admitting that some dumbass got trigger-happy, rather than sticking to the (thin blue) line of an inanimate weapon discharging itself.

        Doesn’t make the poor Fitch guy any less dead though.

      2. What better argument could there be against quietly surrendering?

        1. Quote”Finch’s family told the media this afternoon that Finch was not armed and that he had gone to the door to see what was going on yesterday when he saw all the flashing lights.”

          Hard to quietly surrender if you don’t know you need to surrender!

    2. Livingston didn’t say if the man, who was 28, had a weapon when he came to the door, or what caused the officer to shoot the man. Police don’t think the man fired at officers, but the incident is still under investigation, he said. The man, who has not been identified by police, died at a local hospital.

      It’s probable the officer hasn’t been “medically cleared” to talk to investigators. That’s a new union thing I just heard about. So I’m sure the stories will be straight before we’re even allowed to ask questions.

  4. “These reactions are exactly the kinds of things swatters are hoping for. Because the police have developed this reputation for violent, over-the-top reactions to everything, they are actually reinforcing the value of using swatting as a way to torment others.”

    The cops should get in trouble. But if they can find who called in the original call that lead to this, they should be tried for murder as well.

    1. But if they can find who called in the original call that lead to this, they should be tried for murder as well.

      I disagree. They should be charged with something, but the murder falls squarely on the cop’s shoulders.

      It’s certainly true that those of us who read Reason regularly know what the possible outcome of sending unaccountable goons with firearms and a powerful union out to a house full of innocent people will be. But a stupid, immature act that was only designed to cause inconvenience shouldn’t draw any attention away from the fact that our nation’s policing is in a dangerous state.

      1. I feel like it’s similar to somebody falsely yelling “GUN” and someone getting trampled to death in the ensuing panic. Whatever is the consequence for that, should be for this. At least manslaughter.

        1. Like shouting ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theater?

          1. Nah, now that I’ve calmed down and thought a little bit I think neither are apt comparisons. This is really closest to calling in a bomb threat or something like that. What tends to be the consequence for that action?

            1. Interesting question. If I call in a bomb threat at a school, and then swat blows the school up, am I now a mass-murder? Seems like the folks doing the actual killing should take some blame.

      2. You can charge more than one person for the murder, you know. And the person who called it in is more culpable. The cop presumably didn’t want this guy dead. The swatter set out to have him killed.

        1. The cop presumably didn’t want this guy dead.

          Ha! That’s a good one!

          1. Hey… John Revolta in “Pulp Fiction” didn’t want the guy in the back seat dead. It was an accident. I’m sure he would have apologized if there’d been any point to it.

          2. It’s not like finch was a dog.

        2. If the info about dueling gamers is correct, then Finch was not the target. That means his death is something like a third party catching a bullet when two a-holes start shooting at each other.

      3. But if they can find who called in the original call that lead to this, they should be tried for murder as well.

        It’s that “as well” part that’s the problem – the cops aren’t going to be held the least bit responsible for shooting first and asking questions later. “Hey, some anonymous caller told us some unverified shit, and that’s good enough for us to start killing people.” You and I would never get away with such nonsense but cops are highly trained and therefore held to a much lower standard.

      4. only designed to cause inconvenience shouldn’t draw any attention away from the fact that our nation’s policing is in a dangerous state.

        You don’t call the cops claiming there’s an active hostage situation if you only intended to cause inconvenience.

        Its one of those ‘a reasonable person knows or should know’ things – a reasonable person, including some shitbag 12 year old, knows the sort of response that a call like that is going to create.

        1. Well, he knows now. Next time get your address correct. Just think what could have been.

      5. Assuming that making a false police report is a felony there, and since a death during the commission of a felony is murder, the swatter should be charged with murder.
        I saw the body cam footage and it’s pretty clear that the shooting wasn’t reasonable for the situation. When someone turned a spot on the “suspect”, he raised his arm to shield his eyes and got shot. No way to interpret that as a legitimate fear for the officer’s life.

      6. It’s my understanding that any death that results from a felony is, by definition, murder. If SWATting is a felony, then the SWATter is liable for murder. I could be wrong.

      7. “Our nation’s policing” isn’t a thing. Policing is largely a local matter and there is wide variation in quality.

        I suspect one big part of the reason local government has such trouble addressing such issues is public sector unions, and that’s s problem not just with police. Eliminate those (or at least force local employees to belong to unions restricted to local membership) and these problems may be easier to address.

      8. The original caller should bear some or most of the guilt of murder.
        Otherwise, anyone can claim that because they weren’t the actual trigger-puller, they bear no responsibility at all.

        For examples:

        Hillary Clinton could order a hit on one of her political enemies, and because she was not the person who actually pulled the trigger on the gun, she gets off without a murder charge.

        A drug cartel leader orders a hit on a journalist and dodges the murder charge because he was not the one who pulled the trigger.

        And here’s an example that is closer to the one here: a Prohibition-era Chicago mob boss orders his men to shoot up a competing speakeasy with a Tommy gun without killing anyone; someone gets killed anyway. Is it murder? (The cop was not supposed to kill anyone and was not ordered to do so.) Is the mob boss guilty of murder?

    2. Sooner or later they’ll raid a State Legislature party and kill a dozen politicians, lobbyists and hookers, then we’ll gloat over Corporal Jethro Clampitt being executed–or convicted posthumously–for abuse of firearms. Justice served by dad!

      1. Except usually those have off duty cops working security/pimps and the responding cops will recognize the off duty ones.

      2. You actually think they’d bring the hammer down on the cops in that situation for a couple dead hookers? I’d find that touching if I believed it would happen.

    3. I’m not a lawyer or anything but it looks like it could be treated as either third-degree murder or manslaughter pretty easily. Taking an action that is obviously and recklessly dangerous to human life and which results in the loss of human life is pretty textbook manslaughter. We don’t know the circumstances of why the cop fired yet. It doesn’t -sound- good, but there could exist a conceivable reality where the cop is (justifiably) not charged with murder but the caller who created the situation is, and there exists a more likely reality where both are charged with murder.

      1. You have it backwards. The more likely universe has the prosecutor throwing the book at the caller while the cop gets off. We’ve seen this play before over and over again.

      2. If an illegal immigrants can’t even get negligent manslaughter for firing a gun towards an inhabited pier, why should anyone be charged here?

        1. Because it appears the cop in question murdered someone. Is that not an adequate reason in the universe you inhabit?

          1. Try re-reading what Jesse wrote and thinking about it for a good, long time.

  5. Police right now are being tight-lipped about what actually happened

    So according to police logic, they have something to hide.

  6. Hmm, I don’t see any “protected classes” here, not sure if we’re going to make NPR.

    1. Gamers are lazy, evil scumbags, Paul, and this just confirms that true fact.

      1. “I blame Mortal Kombat, GamerGate, and President Trump for this tragedy!”

        (They’re actually going to run with something like that, aren’t they? Fucking hell.)

    2. When will we finally have a news outlet that reports on stories white people care about?

        1. It’s called Vanity Fair.

            1. Cat Fancy.

    3. The victim’s aunt is “Lorrie Hernandez-Caballero” — but I don’t think the “one drop” rule applies in these cases.

    4. hey everyone. lets all take a moment right now to remember that racism isnt an issue. totally not. we solved that in the 70s. and blm sucks. that whats important. that we all remember that black lives matter is a bad bad thing. grrr.

      1. Racism is of course a thing: many people are assholes and selfish pricks. Just take yourself as an example: in your own way, you are an assholes too.

        The best way of dealing with assholes is not to pass laws outlawing being an asshole, it is to ostracize you people.

  7. The cop who shot, the guy who swatted, and the guy who gave the fake address should all be charged with murder.

    1. or, well, some degree of homicide/manslaughter

    2. Why the guy who gave the fake address? Presumably the fake caller gave a more innocent reason for asking for the address. I don’t know why you would give a stranger on the internet any addess, real or fake, but it’s not a crime to do so.

    3. That was tried, remember? For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

  8. Cop shoots an unarmed innocent man, he gets administrative pay and waits until the department makes the incident go away.

    Civilian shoots an armed intruder, he’s immediately locked up under $250K bail and gets 5-10 years for manslaughter.

    The police get away with this because we are largely a sane, peaceful people. Wait until they do this to a family of violent nutcases, who then start sniping police or storm the station heavily armed.

    1. Let’s not be criticizing Dallasites over one lone retaliation!

    2. Police are trained, presumably, so I should have a lower standard for belief of dangerous conduct or fear of ones life than the average Joe. Or something like that.

  9. Last Friday Nutpunch of the Year, Scott?

  10. So the cops arrived with flashing lights? No surveillance, visual or audio? No confirmation whatsoever that the 911 caller’s report was roughly accurate, or that he even had the correct address? No one thinking to ask how, if they can’t immediately surmise the whole situation from the curb, the caller was somehow able to?

    Just “in position” to start shooting.

    1. And just casually strolled up to the door and rang the bell where they supposedly had good reason to believe there was an armed hostage situation?

      1. They did the same thing to Patrick Frey (otherwise known as “Patterico” on his blog). They knocked on his door, yelled at him to come out with his hands, and then eventually searched the house for survivors. I don’t know if this is standard procedure, but it sounds like it is.

        http://patterico.com/2017/12/2…..s-someone/

        There’s a body cam video of the incident, you can’t really see what happened.

        This isn’t a militarization issue. The police would have to arrive at this situation geared up for something. If a police officer dressed like Robocop used good judgment, then it’s not an issue. The guy who shot Tamir Rice and Philand Castile didn’t have militarized equipment on them.

  11. Lisa Finch, Andrew’s mother, told the Eagle the police then raided the house after shooting her son. They were all handcuffed and taken to the police station for interviews.

    This is the funny part – after “rescuing” the “hostages”, they arrest them? Is that SOP for all cops or just the retarded ones?

    1. The arrest was undoubtedly the response to realizing they’d fucked up. And no, I’m not being sarcastic.

    2. I do think that’s SOP. Under current doctrines nobody at the scene has the authority to determine who among those rounded up might be homicidal, suicidal, or otherwise dangerous. They arrest ’em all and sort it out at the station, unless someone needs to go to the hospital right away.

      1. Arrest them on what charges?

      2. Arrest them on what charges?

      3. Arrest them on what charges?

        1. Arrest them on a charge of aggravating the squirrels.

  12. The whole point of the DemoGOP wrecking the economy, sucking unemployed kids into “our” forces and brainwashing them into killers is to stock Sharia Weapons and Tactics death squads. What happens when pranksters call the goons to the homes of judges, politicians and bureaucrats?

    1. oooooh! good one.
      But… probably shows up on their monitors as a “no go” site.

  13. While there is heavy focus on the “SWATTING”. The emphasis squarely needs to be on and remain on the actions of the police department. The went into a situation based solely on an unsubstantiated 911 call. Once they had the address, they made no attempt to validate that a hostage situation actually existed, resulting in the death of an innocent man. They automatically assumed a hostage situation. The same thing happened to John Crawford in Ohio, where a Walmart security guard falsely accused him of waving a weapon at customers, a weapon that happened to be a BB gun from the Walmart shelves. Police shot the man on sight. upon entering the store. The cops that killed Crawford were not charged and the same thing will happen here. Police everywhere react instead of think. Use poor tactics that end up exposing officers and citizens to injury and death. We need to change policing in this country. The first step would be to stop the hero worshiping on cops and stop believing that fear justifies the killing of a US citizen.

    1. That took place in Beavercreek Ohio, where I went to high school. Boy am I proud!!!

    2. It would take some monumental SWATing mistake to arouse enough public outrage that would result in policy change of that magnitude.

      Something like the Freddie Gray riots that led to the Baltimore police changing policy (whether explicitly or not) to a more hands-off approach.

      The Finch killing apparently isn’t enough.

      What I think would be enough is if:

      a) a baby is killed (but then again, a SWAT team flash-bang-grenaded a baby in a playpen and that didn’t cause riots)
      b) a politician’s kid is killed

      THEN, you’ll see police policy change.

  14. If you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear…aw forget it.

  15. Odds that the person who called in the false report gets convicted of some sort of homicide while the cop walks?

    1. I’m actually going to put the odds fairly low. It would be pretty awkward to admit that cops can be used as a murder weapon, even if it is accurate.

    2. Did they even figure that part out yet?

      1. Not that I know. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t try too hard to find the person.

    3. If they can find any felonies in the process committed by the caller, it’s a slam dunk felony murder.

    4. None, because they certainly spoofed their number and/or used a burner phone, and probably aren’t from the US.

  16. If you don’t read reason, why would you think cops could be this insane.

  17. And you end the article on a completely unsupported premise. Reason should have higher standards than that. There is no information on what happened here, if it was a swat officer using military grade equipment or a standard officer with a glock that any standard civilian can carry. You have no evidence, cited data, or even expert evidence to support the point. You merely cite yourself. Citing yourself doesn’t count. Do better.

    1. “SWAT” stands for “Special Weapons and Tactics”.

  18. And you end the article on a completely unsupported premise. Reason should have higher standards than that. There is no information on what happened here, if it was a swat officer using military grade equipment or a standard officer with a glock that any standard civilian can carry. You have no evidence, cited data, or even expert evidence to support the point. You merely cite yourself. Citing yourself doesn’t count. Do better.

    There is nothing in there about weapons or equipment. It’s entirely about the mindset that militarized police carry with them, the “us vs. them” “it’s a war zone out there” bullshit with rules of engagement so loose that they wouldn’t fly in an actual fucking war zone.

  19. For what it’s worth, describing something like this as a “prank” is like describing a mass shooting as a prank.

    1. Technically, I think some of the Joker’s crimes are pranks.

  20. Have there been any cases of someone “swatting” cops?

    1. Funny enough, they protect their own addressees and rights like nuclear launch codes.

  21. Today’s modern law enforcement is so highly trained, so extremely elite, that some nerd in a basement, can remotely force them to commit murder over a video game!

  22. Swatting became more frequent after anti-gun groups got on FB and other social media to encourage calling police on law abiding gun owners as a form of harassment. Some radical anti-gun groups go so far as to recommend alleging that a crime is taking place.

  23. The words “may have” should be deleted. It definitely was caused by some dickhead swatting another gamer on Call of Duty. There are photos of the message in which the intended victim gives the guy who did the swatting call an address matching the one where the cops responded. And there are tweets where the guy more or less admits that he did it.

  24. And even after the police had ascertained that Finch had not, in fact, killed his father, they still — STILL — put the family in handcuffs and ransacked the house. Because, hey, while we’re here, we might as well have a little fun, right? Yeah, blame the gamers. Or, blame the guys with the guns who treat the rest of us like we’re here just to satisfy their sick need for violence.

    1. I won’t have you speaking this way about our Republican and Democratic First Responders?!

  25. Attention all assholes: This is what can happen when you SWAT someone.

    1. No, this is what happens when police stop being humans and instead become murder bots.

  26. Move along, nothing to see. Cowardly cop got scared, crapped his pants, and shot an unarmed man. Internal investigation will reveal that all procedures were followed, and no charges will be filed against cop. Police will blame shooting on prankster. Body cam footage will be released in two years that shows cop lied. City will pay huge settlement. Nothing will change.

    1. Or, if by some miracle the cop does get charged a jury will let him off because he was “a-scared” or they agree that it is ok for a cop to shoot you if you don’t jump high enough when he says “frog”. Even if there was no way you could have heard him.

  27. Jeff Longwell, mayor of Wichita, is a Republican, whose platform was dedicated to First Responders?…

    1. Well the shooter cop certainly responded first, though quite incorrectly. I would think some kind of murder or manslaughter charge should be brought against him and he should be convicted, yet I doubt that will happen.

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