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Call of Duty Gaming Community Points To 'Swatting' In Wichita Police Shooting (dailydot.com) 681

schwit1 shares a report from The Daily Dot: A man was killed by police Thursday night in Wichita, Kansas, when officers responded to a false report of a hostage situation. The online gaming community is saying the dead man was the victim of a swatting prank, where trolls call in a fake emergency and force SWAT teams to descend on a target's house. If that's true, this would be the first reported swatting-related death. Wichita deputy police chief Troy Livingston told the Wichita Eagle that police were responding to a report that a man fighting with his parents had accidentally shot his dad in the head and was holding his mom, brother and sister hostage. When police arrived, "A male came to the front door," Livingston told the Eagle. "As he came to the front door, one of our officers discharged his weapon." The man at the door was identified by the Eagle as 28-year-old Andrew Finch. Finch's mother told reporters "he was not a gamer," but the online Call of Duty community claims his death was the result of a gamer feud which Finch may not have even been a part of.
UPDATE: The New York Daily News reports police in Los Angeles have now arrested 25-year-old gamer Tyler Barriss, who the paper describes as "an alleged serial 'prankster'..."

"Barriss gave cops Finch's address, mistakenly believing it belonged to a person he had feuded with over a $1 or $2 Call of Duty wager."
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Call of Duty Gaming Community Points To 'Swatting' In Wichita Police Shooting

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  • by ArtemaOne ( 1300025 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @08:18AM (#55833661)

    To make it clear, the man who was shot by police was not the intended victim of the swatting, and had nothing to do with either party. The police just rolled in and picked off the first guy they saw.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      You are making an assumption on the situation. What we know is that as far as the police knew they were rolling on a murder and hostage situation (hostage in danger of murder as well). We don't know if the potential hostage taker had his hands hidden, whether he made any sharp movements - basically we know nothing. We don't know if the officer followed procedure, or what he was responding to. To say that they just rolled up and shot the first person they saw is only showing your bias and not what was re
      • by cob666 ( 656740 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @08:40AM (#55833723) Homepage

        You are making an assumption on the situation. What we know is that as far as the police THOUGHT they were rolling on a murder and hostage situation (hostage in danger of murder as well). We don't know if the potential hostage taker had his hands hidden, whether he made any sharp movements - basically we know nothing. We don't know if the officer followed procedure, or what he was responding to. To say that they just rolled up and shot the first person they saw is only showing your bias and not what was reported.

        Fixed that for you...

        • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @12:40PM (#55834847)

          the police WERE TOLD THAT they were rolling on a murder and hostage situation (hostage in danger of murder as well)

          Fixed that for you.

          The problem began with the bad intel. While the police bear some of the blame due to their over-aggressive response, your characterization removes blame entirely from the original intel source - the prankster.

          Bear in mind that even if the police respond appropriately, this sort of pranking still incurs a cost onto society. If there's no pranking (or a small chance of it), police can assume the intel is probably correct and barge in ASAP to neutralize the situation. But if pranking is common, they have to take more time to assess the situation once they arrive on-site, increasing the possibility that (had it been an actual murder/hostage situation) the hostage-taker will notice what's up, decide there's no escape, and kill the hostage and himself.

          The prankster needs to go on trial for destroying two lives. The guy who was killed, and the police officer who now has to live with knowing he killed an innocent. That's independent of whether or not you want the police officer to go on trial.

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          Fixed that for you...

          Only if you want to abolish the word "know" because any kind of evidence, records, testimony etc. can be false or unreliable including first-hand knowledge. If he'd pointed a replica gun at the police saying "as far as they knew he was pointing a real gun at them" would be a completely ordinary and acceptable use of English. By that standard I doubt you even know if there has been a swatting incident, sure there's news reports and eye witness accounts and video footage... so aliens landed in Roswell, New Me

      • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @08:42AM (#55833729)

        Unless the guy answered the door shouting he was going to kill the cops, or unless he was holding a firearm as he opened the door....

        There's pretty much no scenario where the swatting aspect is significant compared to the cop killing the guy who answered the door.

        • Unless the guy answered the door shouting he was going to kill the cops, or unless he was holding a firearm as he opened the door....

          Exactly the OP's point. At the moment, we don't whether that was the case. It does seem unlikely, but until we know more, we can't say.

          • They released the video... the guy answers the door, and like 5 seconds later someone from across the street shoots him. Total fuckup by the police.
      • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @08:44AM (#55833733) Journal

        To say that they just rolled up and shot the first person they saw is only showing your bias and not what was reported.

        Essentially, they did just that, shooting the 1st person to come to the door... bad luck he fit the physical description of the reported assailant. From the footage, it appears the police are hundreds of feet from the front door, so in exchange for placing themselves at a relatively safe distance, discerning a sudden move as harmful intent or honest-to-goodness surprise was near impossible.

        Moral of the story? When the police have weapons trained on you, hopefully you don't need to sneeze...

        • by The Evil Atheist ( 2484676 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @09:15AM (#55833843) Homepage
          No, the moral of the story is no matter what you do, you're probably going to get killed by the police.

          Don't comply immediately? Get killed. Comply too quickly? Get killed. Don't resist arrest? Get killed. Run away? Get killed. Unable to control your body's reaction to getting suffocated? Get killed.

          Discerning intent was not impossible. They were, as you say, at a safe distance. There is nothing wrong, if you think the person is about to shoot, to find cover and assess the situation, especially if you were already at a safe distance. There is nothing about policing that demands you shoot first and ask questions later. There's something wrong with Americans thinking they're going to be the hero. There's nothing wrong with hiding. You're supposed to be the police. You're not a fucking soldier.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by rmdingler ( 1955220 )

            A death had already been reported at the residence, with future deaths eminent. The poor bastard who opened the door did not comply instantly with their instructions, as he was righteously confused... but he does appear to make some ill-advised quick movement with shaky spotlights and police rifles trained on him.

            Right or wrong is, unfortunately, for later discussion... if living through the ordeal is your goal, just put your fracking hands up and move slowly.

            • by The Evil Atheist ( 2484676 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @09:57AM (#55833985) Homepage
              Yeah, because your average person has done time in their local improv theater group and knows how to act in an alarming situation.

              Imagine cops burst into your house right now. You're telling me you'll be calm and collected in that situation? Maybe you are. But to demand that of everyone is just ridiculous. They're cops. They're paid and trained to handle these situations and should be held to a higher standard. As they are in saner developed countries.
              • And, furthermore, the entire point of them busting into the house unannounced is to *surprise* the occupants and make it more difficult for the occupants to react in a predictable manner. That's the entire point of knocking the door down. Radley Balko points this out every chance he gets.

            • by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @10:08AM (#55834021)

              The poor bastard who opened the door did not comply instantly with their instructions, as he was righteously confused...

              A decent system allows for innocent people to be confused and not comply instantly, without getting executed on the spot.

              A police officer could carry a shield to protect himself, instead of a finger on the trigger.

          • by mtmra70 ( 964928 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @09:58AM (#55833989)

            Discerning intent was not impossible. They were, as you say, at a safe distance. There is nothing wrong, if you think the person is about to shoot, to find cover and assess the situation, especially if you were already at a safe distance. There is nothing about policing that demands you shoot first and ask questions later. There's something wrong with Americans thinking they're going to be the hero. There's nothing wrong with hiding. You're supposed to be the police. You're not a fucking soldier.

            Even soldiers are held to higher standards and typically cannot, and will not, shoot unless shot at first. Obviously different when they are actively invading a building after having tons of intel, but normally on patrol they do not shoot first in hostile zones.

            I love how city policy do more killing, with less info, and in less hostile areas, than our military.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 30, 2017 @10:38AM (#55834171)

            Case in point (warning: disturbing):
            http://www.newser.com/story/252649/video-shows-cop-fatally-shooting-unarmed-man-in-hotel.html

            The officer in this video is clearly amped right up, _screaming_ at the poor fellow on the ground who is readily complying with the officer. Officer says he's going to shoot if the man touches his lower back one more time. Then instead of walking over and cuffing the man while he lays down with his hands out, the officer asks the man to crawl toward him. I've Never seen that request as part of a police procedure. Man starts crawling and pauses to pull up his pants. Officer then lets 4-5 shots go and kills the man instantly. Claims the main was reaching for a gun.

            The way the office set up this situation is to create an extremely tense situation, amps himself right up, gets the suspect probably hysterical, threatens to shoot him if he does anything wrong, and then sets up the required actions so the suspect is liable to fuck something up, and when he does the officer has permission to get his gun off. Goal achieved.

            What's even more sickening is that this officer was cleared of any wrongdoing and even claimed he'd do it again if he had a chance to do it over. If I were in charge the officer here would get death by lethal injection and be made an example of.

          • by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) <vincent.jan.goh@gmail. c o m> on Saturday December 30, 2017 @12:24PM (#55834753) Homepage

            The whole reason swatting works is because the police are notoriously over-anxious when going into these situations. If police were calm and collected and approached these situations even slightly more deliberatively, this would not be an issue.

            What confounds me is what even IF this were a real hostage situation, why would you shoot at whoever comes to the door immediately? You might just as easily hit an escaping hostage as the perp. If all we care about is protecting police lives over that of the general populace, just donâ(TM)t send the cops at all. Simply refuse to show up, or immediately bomb the house from a plane. I admire the ideal of the police, but it is not a useful institution if they consider their safety more important than that of the people they have sworn to protect.

      • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @08:46AM (#55833741) Homepage Journal

        You are making an assumption on the situation.

        He is, but in his case the consequences aren't that somebody dies.

      • I made no assumption of the situation. Please point out any specific assumptions I made. I stated information only.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dissy ( 172727 )

        You are making an assumption on the situation. What we know is that as far as the police knew they were rolling on a murder and hostage situation (hostage in danger of murder as well). We don't know if the potential hostage taker had his hands hidden, whether he made any sharp movements - basically we know nothing. We don't know if the officer followed procedure, or what he was responding to. To say that they just rolled up and shot the first person they saw is only showing your bias and not what was reported.

        This is untrue.

        The police have released the 911 call audio, a dash camera video, and the body camera video from the police officer who made the shot.

        All of this is linked in the article above, specifically the kansas.com news URL.
        You can see all of the things you claim "we" don't know.

        You can see the victim raising his hands, but then turning sideways and making a stance with his legs that one might do if they are about to angle a weapon on someone. At that moment one of his hands was, from the side view,

    • by FeelGood314 ( 2516288 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @09:51AM (#55833965)
      The police just shot a completely innocent person and are trying to blame this on swatting and deflect attention from themselves. The media is happily helping them. US police officers are very jumpy, with some justification, but I suspect the training and the way the entire situation was handled was done incorrectly. The officer that fired the shot is at fault, but I will bet that the entire chain of communication escalated the threat and down played the fact that it was just a call.

      If you have never had a non-friendly interaction with the police and the police suddenly tell you to do something, you aren't going to do it. You are going to wonder what is going on. It's perfectly reasonable for Finch to not raise his hands. It's likely a situation he ever thought he would be in.

      In some places in the USA blacks are taught how to interact with the police to avoid being shot. Maybe they need to extend that training to visitors and the general population.

      I'm a white Canadian. I've twice had American police officers reach and hold their guns (not point) when interacting with them. Once at a traffic stop when I was looking for something the officer asked for and once when a black friend and I ran up to a police car to ask for directions. My youngest son at 9, also had an ill advised interaction with a SWAT team. As a frequent visitor to the USA, a couple hours learning how to interact with the US police would definitely have been useful.
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @10:00AM (#55833995) Homepage Journal

      Because it would have been so much better if they'd got the "right" guy...

      Any time a SWAT team is used, police come prepared for war, and where you have war, you have fog-of-war. Everyone knows hasty decisions are unreliable, and none are more hasty and unreliable than split second decisions made under the belief that it's your life or theirs.

      Consider the fovea, the only part of the retina which provides clear, high resolution images. It covers an angular extent roughly equivalent to twice your thumbnail's width held at arm's length. And yet we experience the world as if in super-HD resolution. That experience is interpolated by the brain out of a narrow stream of visual data. That is how police have, in documented cases, mistaken things like a slice of pizza for a gun. They expected there to be a gun, and their brains put the gun where that blob of pixels was. It's exact the same perceptual phenomenon that caused the Apache helicopter pilots to mistake a journalist's camera for an RPG in the so-called "collateral murder" video.

      Seeing what you expect to see is why stage magic works too; magicians exploit the fact we each live in a conjectural world, the product of the brain's building complete and coherent models of our surroundings from incomplete data. These models only have to be good enough to confer an evolutionary advantage, and they're often exaggerated as anyone who has ever been surprised by an animal they don't immediately recognize can tell you. Your brain makes the critter larger.

      All this makes sending men in primed for a fight for survival tantamount to manslaughter if there is no actual need for that.

      • by echnaton192 ( 1118591 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @02:43PM (#55835495)

        But you do know that the police in other countries - including the SWAT-Teams - are trained differently?

        That the police is trained way longer than in the US before being released to the public?

        That police is trained to deescalate a situation and is only shooting if you are actually approaching them with a gun?

        Your police shot one innocent man with more bullets than our police shot in a whole year, including the mercykills on animals? And this includes encouters with criminals wielding guns.

        But that costs money. Buying cheap is sometimes very expensive.

        I am shure british, french or russian people could provide sources to backup my post, but here are my sources:

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik... [wikipedia.org]

        2 years! Compare that to the US. For fucks sake, people here train harder to be a certified private security guard on private property than your actual police in most of the US.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik... [wikipedia.org]

        No one here fears for their lives on daily encounters with the police. Even if the suspects run away or do not comply, as long as no violence and no weapons are involved. And they are not trained to shoot first and ask questions later.

        You risk broken bones, but the brutality and recklessness we see in those videos are not there. Some policemen are assholes and there were actual murders by the police that were swept under the rug, but if you show the footage of the most infamous killings in the US to German Police Officers, they‘d tell you that this goes against any training they had.

        You know - the first step to solve a problem is to recognize there is one...

  • Livingston didn't say if the man, who was 28, had a weapon when he came to the door, or what caused the officer to shoot the man. Police don't think the man fired at officers, but the incident is still under investigation, he said. The man, who has not been identified by police, died at a local hospital.

  • by Grog6 ( 85859 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @08:33AM (#55833699)

    Whoever made the call, as well as the officers who couldn't be bothered to Not shoot someone.

    With their record, does anyone actually Call the police anymore for real calls anymore?

    Seems like when people call for service, they're calling to be murdered...

    • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @10:20AM (#55834089)

      With their record, does anyone actually Call the police anymore for real calls anymore?

      Seems like when people call for service, they're calling to be murdered...

      Over 1 million cops make contact with the public a minimum of 40 million times per year. Of those 40+ million encounters, maybe 1,000 will result in the death of a suspect.

      Now, I realize that Slashdot isn't quite what it used to be, but I would still expect the average person on here to at least have a basic understanding of statistics and probability. The fact that you would post something so ignorant in the first place is bad enough on it's own, but the multiple upmods are really disappointing.

    • by dissy ( 172727 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @10:58AM (#55834265)

      Whoever made the call, as well as the officers who couldn't be bothered to Not shoot someone.

      And this should be trivial.

      The stupid kid that requested the swatting call posted on his twitter account "That house I had swatted is on the news"
      The other stupid kid he was arguing with also posted screenshots of his direct message with the first stupid kid, providing the address as his own and telling him to come try something.

      Twitter should have all of that logged along with their home or cell IPs, which would lead back to a name on an ISP account with an address.

      Their gamer tags were also used and shown, which should similarly point to connection logs with IPs.

      Only the 3rd stupid kid who actually placed the 911 call himself may possibly have not left a call or voip trail.
      But seeing as this will be a murder charge, and they will soon if not already have in custody the kid requesting the swatting, I highly doubt that kid won't drop the swatters name and info if for no other reason than hoping he gets a less harsh sentence.

      You know nothing will happen regarding the cop though.

  • What intelligence? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 30, 2017 @08:34AM (#55833701)

    ... one of our officers discharged his weapon.

    So the man at the door might be a hostage, which the police knew, were present. This is a total lack of concern for other people in the apartment.

  • We live in a sick fucking world.
  • WTF police? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ash-Fox ( 726320 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @08:38AM (#55833711) Journal

    I live in the UK and, I just don't hear of stuff like this happening regularly (police shooting people coming to the door) when guns are involved. I don't understand why it's a problem over there.

    • Re:WTF police? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @08:49AM (#55833751)

      I think its simply because all the cops there are armed, and are taught that all situations they go to are life-threateningly dangerous (due to everyone, particularly criminals, having firearms themselves). As a result, cops in the USA have to be much more alert and ready to shoot to defend themselves.

      the trouble then comes when you have so many cops which means that many of them will be relatively poorly trained. None of them get the kind of intensive firearms training a UK armed policeman (say) would get, because it wouldn't be possible to train them all to the required level.

      I doubt this case was a SWAT team member shooting, but one of the beat cops who was there to provide support and was shitting himself that the suspect would come out guns blazing.

      Either way, I doubt its possible to really improve the situation in the US, you have too many cops, too many guns, and as a result you have quantity over quality. These kinds of incidents are likely to happen occasionally (and they do occur less frequently that you are led to believe by the media as the media just loves to report them all).

      in this case, lets hope the gamers are made an example of, big time. The cops should be finding them, prosecuting them, parading them before the media, keeping the whole "no more of this, we will come for you" message out there for the rest of the children who might think its a good idea to do this.

      • The cops should be finding them

        What good would killing them do? ;)

      • Re:WTF police? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday December 30, 2017 @09:26AM (#55833885) Homepage Journal

        I doubt this case was a SWAT team member shooting, but one of the beat cops who was there to provide support and was shitting himself that the suspect would come out guns blazing.

        When I was a kid of about fourteen years, I punched a sign in Library Park in Lakeport. I did not hit it hard enough to damage it. The sign was about three inches thick and wooden, and it had split from weathering so they had slapped acrylic over both sides of it. I did not crack the acrylic, and I clearly did not break the sign. A cop saw me do it, and he decided to arrest me for it, even though there was no evidence that a crime had occurred. The cop put me in handcuffs and put me in the front of his shitty little Impala cruiser, with my head almost against the dash where I would have been killed instantly by any halfway decent front end collision. This cop turned out later to be a total piece of human waste, involved in numerous thefts and the statutory rape of a fifteen year old. He was a member of the SWAT team.

        SWAT team members are completely capable of being complete pieces of human shit.

        • This cop turned out later to be a total piece of human waste, involved in numerous thefts and the statutory rape of a fifteen year old. He was a member of the SWAT team.

          SWAT team members are completely capable of being complete pieces of human shit.

          They should ask for volunteers for the SWAT team.... and then permanently bar anyone who volunteers. At least the first time around it would help weed out psychopaths who want a chance to shoot someone.

      • So economy of scale does not work in the USA?

        Interesting take. Never thought of that. Why is that?

      • Re:WTF police? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Ash-Fox ( 726320 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @10:12AM (#55834049) Journal

        I think its simply because all the cops there are armed, and are taught that all situations they go to are life-threateningly dangerous (due to everyone, particularly criminals, having firearms themselves). As a result, cops in the USA have to be much more alert and ready to shoot to defend themselves.

        I live in Northern Ireland, a part of the UK that is friendly to firearms. All the police here commonly carry firearms and have the same risks. I own firearms, my neighbours own firearms etc.

        the trouble then comes when you have so many cops which means that many of them will be relatively poorly trained.

        We have more police officers in Northern Ireland than some States do... (more than Delaware, yet you still see more police shootings there).

        Something just genuinely doesn't seem right.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 30, 2017 @08:38AM (#55833715)

    Amazingly, there won't be any riots, nor TVs stolen from stores that are broken into during the riots.

  • I'm not sure what justifies the need for body cameras more, the death of an innocent man, or the Slashdot comments being posted here.

    Comments being posted here make the SWAT guy look like a monk. Talk about trigger-happy.

  • by Tokolosh ( 1256448 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @09:45AM (#55833945)

    Let's start with the government, just to show good faith.

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @10:49AM (#55834217) Homepage

    Douche bags being reckless with other people's lives

    Criminals thinking that what they did isn't that bad.

    Militarized Cops - sure of their own righteous AND the villany of their target - over-reacting and shooting an innocent man

    The various businesses saying "it's not our problem" rather than preventing anonymous calls to police/spoofed phone numbers.

    People going "how horrible", but not really objecting or demanding action, because of how rare it is.

    Neither political party taking appropriate steps to prevent this from happening again, because hey, no one really demanded action.

  • He was probably a Call of Duty player.

  • by lamer01 ( 1097759 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @11:53AM (#55834589)
    And so did a buddy of mine. Both white. Both in relatively affluent areas. Both times for absolutely no good reason (there was no justification for them pulling me or him over and no tickets issued). Neither of those areas ever had a shooting happen towards a police officer. And, this was many years ago, like 30 years. The cop had his firearm pointed at my head from behind me while I was talking to the another police officer through the window. So, I am sure I was quite close to getting killed had I made a move that they considered 'threatening'. Once you have an experience like that you will never forget it and you won't spout your mouth off as 'police are justified' and all that bullshit. So, cops have always been inclined to pull their weapons for no good reason. You know the saying, 'If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?'. Well, I think that is the main problem here. Police are trained to resolve issues through force and that's what they know how to do so they do it. I know my stories are anecdotal but they have created a deep mistrust of police and most authoritarian symbols which I make sure to convey to anyone who will listen.
  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @02:18PM (#55835393)

    This was a really stupid prank and hopefully they catch whoever did it. But one thing I've always wondered about police work in general is this...especially in SWAT situations, why is there such a level of fear? SWAT teams are wearing bulletproof vests...they might get hurt but won't die from gunfire. The other thing is that any criminal is massively outgunned by a SWAT team. They should go into these situations feeling determined they can win, not scared!

    I just don't understand why the first reaction of a cop is to pull out their gun and start firing before figuring out what's going on. Just stopping for a few milliseconds would fix a lot of problems.

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