City of Wichita settles in fatal swatting incident for $5 million
The city of Wichita on Tuesday approved a $5 million settlement of a lawsuit filed by the family of a man who was shot and killed by a police officer during a hoax call in 2017.
The settlement will go to the two children of 28-year-old Andrew Finch, who was shot by officer Justin Rapp as he stepped out of his house on Dec. 28, 2017, to see why it was surrounded by police.
Finch, who was unarmed, was shot by Rapp within 10 seconds of opening his door. Rapp has said that he thought Finch had a gun.
Finch’s death drew national attention to “swatting,” a form of retaliation in which someone reports a false emergency to get authorities, particularly a SWAT team, to respond to an address.
“While this settlement will not bring back our beloved Andy, it helps bring some closure as our family moves forward, especially Andy’s two young children,” Lisa and Dominica Finch, Finch’s mother and sister, respectively, said in a statement.
Investigators later determined the call was the result of a feud between two online gamers over a video game, Shane Gaskill of Wichita and Ohio gamer Casey Viner.
Authorities said Viner recruited Tyler R. Barriss to “swat” Gaskill. Barriss, a Los Angeles man who was known online for “swatting,” called police from Los Angeles to falsely report a shooting and kidnapping at the Wichita address.
But the address they used was old, leading police to Finch, who was not involved in the dispute or playing the video game.
Barriss is serving 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to 51 counts in April 2019. Viner was sentenced to 15 months in September 2019 after pleading guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Shane Gaskill was sentenced in September 2022 to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud.
Rapp was not charged and was later promoted from officer to detective. The city was dropped from the lawsuit but was responsible for Rapp’s legal costs.
The city will pay $2 million from its self-insurance fund and $1.5 million from the city council’s reserve fund, with AIG insurance paying the remainder of the settlement.