A Cop Killed an Innocent Man After a ‘Swatting’ Prank Call. The City Can’t Be Sued.
On a chilly December evening in 2017, a group of Wichita cops surrounded a modest house on West McCormick Street. They were there in response to what was purportedly a gruesome hostage situation: a father shot dead, a mother in danger, and a son threatening to burn everything down.
When Andrew Finch opened the door to his home, a sniper rifle killed him within seconds. Thirty minutes passed before anyone rendered emergency aid. Cops handcuffed his mother, sister, niece, and two friends outside in 24 degree weather for over an hour. But Finch was not the son the police were after, nor were he and his family involved in any crisis.
That’s because there was no crisis. Around 5:00 p.m. that day, in a prank known as “swatting,” a California caller had dialed the Wichita Police Department (WPD) and reported a work of fiction, doling out the address and setting the chaos in motion.
The officers involved failed to do the basics before exercising lethal force on an innocent man, according to a lawsuit filed by the family. The suit says the officers subverted department policy by declining to call a SWAT team, opted not to conduct any sort of inquiry despite “obvious warning signs” that the call was a farce, and did not try to negotiate with Finch before ending his life, among several other missteps.
“After Defendant Officers…surrounded 1033 West McCormick, they made no attempt to determine whether an occupant of the house was in a mental health crisis; had shot someone; had threatened to hold or was holding someone at gunpoint; had threatened or was threatening to burn the house down; had threatened or was threatening to commit suicide; was in possession of a firearm; or posed a danger to themselves or others,” reads the suit, which was originally filed against the city of Wichita and officers Justin Rapp (who fired the shot) and Benjamin Jonker (who organized the response).
Whether the family will see anyone face accountability remains uncertain.
“The argument from the police officer seems to be basically: because they thought a heinous crime had been committed…it was fine to sh