A Los Angeles man was arrested Friday in connection with a prank phone call to 911 that resulted in the fatal police shooting of an unarmed father in Kansas.
Los Angeles police took Tyler Barriss, 25, into custody on an arrest warrant related to the Thursday evening incident in Wichita, Kan., where an officer responding to the 911 call shot and killed 28-year-old Andrew Finch.
Barriss allegedly placed the prank call after getting into a dispute with another person over the online game “Call of Duty,” and he provided authorities the address he believed the other person lived at, reports NBC News. Police later discovered that Finch, who lived at the address, was in no way connected to the online argument.
Wichita police say the incident was a tragic example of the dangerous “swatting” prank, in which a person calls 911 and reports a fake violent crime in progress in order to draw a heavy police response to the home of the intended target. The FBI estimates roughly 400 cases of swatting occur each year, with many pranksters using caller ID spoofing to hide their numbers.
In the Wichita incident, Barriss allegedly got into a fight with another “Call of Duty” player and threatened to “swat” the person. The other player then provided an address that wasn’t actually their own. Barris allegedly made good on his threat and called in a false report to Wichita emergency authorities, claiming he had shot his father and was holding his mother and sister hostage at the address.
When responding officers arrived at the house, they confronted Finch at a doorway. Police say he moved a hand toward the area of his waistband after being told to put his hands up, and an officer, believing Finch was reaching for a gun, fired a single shot.
Finch was pronounced dead minutes later at a nearby hospital. He was found to be unarmed, said Wichita Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston, who blamed the death on Barriss’ “swatting” prank.
“Due to the actions of a prankster we have an innocent victim,” Livingston said at a press conference Friday, according to Fox News.
Finch was the father of two children, ages 2 and 7. His family told reporters that he was not involved in online gaming.
Wichita police said the incident was the tragic result of a prank gone wrong, but Finch’s mother, Lisa Finch, wondered if the responding officers could have handled the situation differently.
“What gives the cops the right to open fire? Why didn’t they give him the same warning they gave us?” she asked, according to the Wichita Eagle. “That cop murdered my son over a false report.”
The officer who shot Finch is a seven-year veteran of the department and is on paid administrative pending an investigation, police said.
Barriss, who had been living in a “transitional recovery center,” has a history of making fake 911 calls. In 2015, he was arrested on federal charges after falsely claiming to have placed bombs at the offices of an ABC affiliate in Los Angeles, reports the New York Daily News.
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