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What just happened? More than five years after 28-year-old Andrew Finch was killed by police in the first fatal US swatting incident, the city of Wichita, Kansas, has reached a $5 million settlement with the family in a federal lawsuit against police detective Justin Rapp, who killed Finch on the victim's front porch.
Finch's death was the result of two men's $1.50 wager on a Call of Duty: WWII match that took place on December 28, 2017. Casey Viner and Shane Gaskill had been playing on the same team when an argument about friendly fire culminated in Viner threatening to 'swat' Gaskill - the act of making a hoax 911 call in the hope it leads to armed responders turning up at a person's home.
Gaskill tauntingly provided an address, but unbeknownst to Viner, it was a previous home. Viner contacted Tyler Barriss - known online as "SWAuTistic" - and provided the address he thought was Gaskill's. Barriss informed 911 that he had fatally shot his father and was holding other family members hostage, prompting a swift armed response from the Wichita police.
When the police arrived at the residence and surrounded the house, Finch, who knew none of those involved in the events that led to this point, opened the door to investigate the commotion. Unarmed and unaware of what was happening, he stepped onto his porch and was shot and killed instantly by police officer Rapp, who was 40 yards away.
Rapp later told investigators he shot Finch to protect the other officers surrounding the house after he thought Finch reached for a gun in his waistline. No criminal charges were brought against Rapp – he was promoted to detective in 2022. The Finch family filed a lawsuit against the city in 2018.
The Wichita Eagle reports that the city was eventually dismissed from the lawsuit, leaving Rapp as the sole defendant, but it remained responsible for Rapp's legal costs. The city council voted 6-1 in favor of the $5 million settlement.
The city is paying $2 million of that amount, including $500,000 from its self-insurance fund and $1.5 million from the City Council's "rainy day" reserve fund. The remainder is coming from its insurance company.
"I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to the activists who fought for myself and my children for five long years," said Tawny Unruh, the mother of Finch's two children. "To the mayor and council who voted in favor of my children, thank you for making sure that my family can move on from this nightmare and begin to heal. We will never forget or understand why our Andy had to die but are grateful for all of the support we've received from our community."
Barriss, who was 25 years old at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to 51 federal charges in 2018. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison a year later. Viner, the man who gave Barris the address, was given a 15-month sentence, while Gaskill received a deferred prosecution that involved meeting certain conditions to avoid being charged. KSN.com reports that he violated the terms of the deal and was later sentenced to 18 months.