A Wichita, Kansas police officer shot unarmed 28-year-old Andrew Finch on the front porch of his family’s home last Thursday evening. Police were responding to what turned out to be a false report of a hostage situation, called in as a prank over a dispute which had nothing to do with Finch or his family.
The still unidentified officer, a seven-and-a-half year veteran of the force, shot Finch once from across the street after the young white man lowered his arms from above his head to his waist several times. None of the other officers who had surrounded the home fired their weapons at Finch.
The police claim that the officer feared for his life, believing that Finch could have grabbed a concealed gun, leaving the officer no choice but to open fire. However, footage from a police body camera shows that the officer was positioned across the street from the Finch home behind the cover of several vehicles.
Police officers had been dispatched to the home by a prank emergency call prompted by an unrelated dispute between two online video gamers over a match of Call of Duty. One of the players provided Finch’s address, apparently at random, to a prankster who then called to report a murder and a hostage situation in order to spark as big a police response as possible.
Finch, left by the police to bleed in the cold for several minutes, was eventually rushed to a nearby hospital by emergency responders, where he was pronounced dead.
Lisa Finch, the victim’s mother, was home at the time of the shooting and recounted her son’s death to the Wichita Eagle: “They didn’t knock on the door, my son opened it because he heard something, he screamed, and they shot him. He was unarmed, there were no guns found in this house.”
She recounted how police forced her, her roommate and granddaughter to step over her son’s body and out of the home into the cold where they were all handcuffed and questioned. Lisa Finch’s sister was tackled by police as she rushed to the house.
“The cops cannot go around just shooting people without any consequences, they cannot do that,” Finch stated. “They gave us a warning, why couldn’t they do that to my son?”
Following the standard operating procedure for police shootings in the US, the officer who killed Finch has been placed on paid administrative leave until a whitewash investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation is completed.
As part of their effort to absolve the police officers of any responsibly for Finch’s killing, police officials have cited the fact that the call was an attempt at “swatting,” in which competitors in online video games call in false bomb threats or reports of murder in order to get heavily armed SWAT teams sent to the homes of their rivals. The FBI reports that there are approximately 400 such false emergency calls every year.
Los Angeles police arrested 25-year-old Tyler Barriss in connection with the false report on Friday. He was charged with an unspecified felony and is being held without bail. Police claim that he made the call that triggered the massive police response in Kansas. Barriss was charged in 2015 with making a bomb threat against the news studios of the local ABC affiliate in Glendale, California.
Finch was just one of the 1,188 people killed by police nationwide in 2017, more than in 2016 but slightly fewer than the record set in 2015 according to a tally kept by killedbypolice.net. Despite several years of protests demanding various reforms, including the use of body cameras such as those worn by the Wichita officers, the death toll in the brutal national killing spree by police officers has exceeded 1,000 for the fourth year in a row.
Many thousands more have been injured, sometimes severely, during brutal encounters with the police.
Following quickly after the Finch killing, another Wichita police officer nearly killed a 9-year-old girl in her family’s home Saturday night. Responding to reports of a suicidal individual with a gun, the officer entered the home and began searching when he was reportedly charged by the family dog.
According to the police, the officer opened fire, missing the dog and hitting the floor. A piece of the bullet ricocheted off the floor and hit the young girl above her eye. She was treated at the hospital and discharged that night.
The police have been armed to the teeth with military equipment by both Democratic and Republican administrations and act as virtual deaths squads, treating the population as a potentially hostile force. Police act as judge, jury and executioners for a host of “crimes” which include “reaching for the waist band,” selling loose cigarettes or CDs on the street, or driving with a broken tail light.