WICHITA, Kan. — A police officer who shot and killed an unarmed Kansas man while responding to a hoax 911 call thought the victim was reaching for a gun, although a dozen other law enforcement officers held their fire because they couldn’t see a weapon or did not have a clear line of fire, according to an investigative report.
District Attorney Marc Bennett released the 42-page report after announcing last week that the unnamed officer won’t face criminal charges in the Dec. 28 killing of 28-year-old Andrew Finch, The Wichita Eagle reports. Bennett said last week that the “the officer’s decision was made in the context of false call.”
Tyler Barriss, 25, of Los Angeles, is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting. He is accused of making the hoax call that appeared to come from Finch’s address. Prosecutors say Barriss called 911 and said he had shot his father in the head and was holding hostages. The hoax call aimed to summon a large police presence to an address in a practice known as “swatting.”
Wichita police say the officer who shot Finch remains on administrative duty. The report said that as he took position across the street from Finch’s home, his attention was directed to a person’s silhouette that was visible on the second floor. He heard another officer say that it looked like the person was moving up and down, possibly giving CPR to the person they thought had been shot, the report says.
The officer said that when Finch opened his door, he was looking at him through the scope on his rifle and saw Finch raise then lower his hands as officers yelled commands. The officer said Finch’s body language made him think, “he’s ‘gonna fire at officers.”
None of the other nine officers or three deputies fired their weapons.
Another officer reported that Finch raising and lowering his hands made him think Finch might have a gun, but he didn’t fire his weapon because other officers and residents at a nearby gas station were in his line of fire, according to the report.
Others said they didn’t shoot because they didn’t feel threatened and didn’t see a gun. One officer said he thought Finch “was moving back towards the threshold of the door” when he was shot. One of the deputies said he was “not fearful of being shot” because he was close enough to Finch’s right arm and hadn’t seen a gun in it, the report said.