A federal judge sentenced a California man to 20 years in prison for making hoax emergency calls, including one that led Wichita police to fatally shoot a man who had no connection to the case.
Tyler R. Barriss appeared Friday in federal court in Wichita. He pleaded guilty to 51 charges in November related to fake calls and threats under an agreement calling for at least 20 years in prison.
One of Barriss’ calls led to the death of 28-year-old Andrew Finch, who was not playing video games. Officers responded to Finch’s home on west McCormick. He opened he door to face police, however, had done nothing wrong and did not know about the swatting call. As he stepped onto the porch, police told him to put up his hands. When he unexpectedly dropped his hands, he was shot and killed by a police officer.
“Swatting is no prank,” U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said. “Sending police and emergency responders rushing to anyone’s home based on utterly false information as some kind of joke shows an incredible disregard for the safety of other people.”
Barriss will have another five years of supervised release and must enter a mental health program. He will have to pay roughly $5,000 to a victim fund. His internet access in prison is restricted. He also can not have contact with the Finch family.
Barriss apologized to Finch’s family in court Friday. He said he takes full responsibility for what happened.
Finch’s sister, Dominica Finch, says Barriss got what he deserved.
“Was he mentally aware enough to realize it would happen? I don’t know,” she said.
The family wants to see police also be held accountable.
“I hope that this prosecution and lengthy sentence sends a strong message that will put an end to the juvenile and reckless practice of ‘swatting’ within the gaming community, as well as in any other context,” McAllister continued. “Swatting is just a terrible idea. I also hope that today’s result helps bring some peace to the Finch family and some closure to the Wichita community.”
Prosecutors sought a sentence of 25 years. The defense sought 20.
Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said he will dismiss the state charges because Barriss would be getting more prison time in the federal case than in state court.
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