Los Angeles, California resident 25-year-old Tyler Barriss argued with another Call of Duty player on Twitter on December 28th, 2017. Barriss decided to retaliate by SWATing his opponent, who gave an incorrect address. He contacted police and falsely reported that a gunman shot his father and was holding his mother, brother, and sister hostage. The location he provided led police to the Wichita, Kansas home of 28-year-old Andrew Finch, a father of two who did not play video games and had no idea what was happening.
Finch’s mother stated that the officers did not knock. Her son went to the door after hearing noises outside. She describes his screams followed by gunshots. The responding officers claim that Finch was told to put his hands up, but kept putting them back down. As a result, they “feared for their lives” and killed him. The officer who fired on Finch was identified as a “7-and-a-half-year veteran of the police department.”
While SWATing is a crime, the community trusts police officers to assess situations and respond appropriately and fairly. That often doesn’t happen. Now, an innocent person is dead, two children will grow up without a father, and a mother has lost her son all because of a prank phone call. How many lives could be saved with better training, more stringent hiring standards, and accountability among law enforcement?