The family of an unarmed man killed last week by Wichita, Kansas, police after a fake 911 call led them to his location wants the officer who fired the fatal shot to be criminally charged, the family’s attorney told HuffPost Wednesday.
Andrew Finch, 28, was killed Thursday evening in a suspected “swatting” hoax, a dangerous prank associated with online video games like “Call of Duty” where someone tries to draw large numbers of police officers to an address by telling emergency responders a made-up story. None of the Wichita officers involved were SWAT members, Police Chief Gordon Ramsay told The Wichita Eagle.
“Our perspective is there needs to be a thorough investigation into the unjustified shooting of Andy Finch,” said Chicago civil rights attorney Andrew M. Stroth, who is representing the family.
“When the family thinks of justice, they think the officer should be held accountable for his actions that evening,” he continued, adding that the Wichita Police Department and the city of Wichita are also “liable” for the death.
A 25-year-old Los Angeles man, Tyler Barriss, was arrested Friday on suspicion of making the call, which involved a fake hostage situation. Barriss appeared in a Los Angeles court Wednesday to say he would not fight efforts to extradite him to Kansas, where a case against him was presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday.
Lisa Finch, Andrew’s mother, wrote a letter Tuesday to local government officials including Ramsay and pleaded to see her son’s body, which had not been released, The Associated Press reported. Stroth confirmed the Finch family has still been unable to retrieve Andrew Finch’s body.
In her letter, Lisa Finch said the city of Wichita was “compounding our grief and sorrow” by holding the body of her son, whom she wanted to give a “proper funeral service and burial.”
“Please let me see my son’s lifeless body,” she continued. “I want to hold him and say goodbye. Please immediately return his body to us.”
Finch also demanded to know when police would return items taken from the family’s home for investigation, including the front door, a computer, two cellphones and a video game. She previously called for authorities to hold the officer accountable directly after her son’s death, telling The Wichita Eagle, “That cop murdered my son over a false report.”
A representative for the Wichita Police Department told HuffPost he was unaware of the letter.
The incident is believed to have stemmed from an argument between two “Call of Duty” players on Twitter that escalated when one player gave the other an address that wasn’t his own.
Finch, however, was not part of the argument. His family said he doesn’t play video games.
A 911 call played for reporters detailed a made-up situation in which someone had an argument with his mother, shot his father in the head, and was holding his mother and two siblings hostage as he considered setting the house on fire.
When police responded, Andrew Finch answered the door. Officers ordered him to raise his hands in the air, Wichita Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston said at a news conference last week, but Finch kept lowering them to his waist. An officer fired at him when he moved his hands upward, as directed, but more quickly than expected.
Finch was unarmed, police confirmed.
The officer who fired the shot was immediately placed on administrative leave, in accordance with department policy.
Ramsay told The Wichita Eagle there will be a “thorough review” of the incident so “nothing like this never happens again, ever.”