A United States court sentenced a California man to 20 years in jail for making bogus emergency calls to the police.
U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren is sending Tyler R. Barriss to prison after the 26-year-old pleaded guilty to 51 counts of fake calls and threats. Barriss had allegedly engaged in "swatting," which led to the fatal shooting of Wichita resident Andrew Finch in 2017.
A Serial Swatter
Swatting is the act of reporting fake crimes in order to have police or SWAT teams descend upon the home of an intended target. This is often done as a way to get back at another person.
Barriss, who was well-known on Twitter as a prolific swatter, agreed to do Viner's request. He called the police to report a fake hostage taking at the home of the supposed target. However, he gave the authorities the wrong address.
Police responded to Finch's house, believing that the man was the hostage taker mentioned in the report. One of the officers at the scene shot and killed the innocent man after he answered the door.
Finch's accidentally killing at the hands of the police sent shock waves across America, drawing the public's attention to the issue of swatting.
The police officer who shot Finch was not criminally charged, but the victim's family filed a lawsuit against the City of Wichita over the incident.
"At every level, the leadership of the city of Wichita failed," said Finch family lawyer Andrew Stroth.
"This is not about money, This is about reforming the Wichita Police Department and the Wichita leadership taking accountability of a police department that has a history of excessive force."
Authorities arrested Barriss and charged him for his role in Finch's death. They also slapped Viner and his intended swatting target Shane Gaskill with co-conspiring charges.
After receiving his sentence, Barriss said he takes full responsibility for Finch's death. He also apologized the victim's family.
Dominica, Finch's sister, said the defendant got what he deserved for swatting. She and her family still wants to see the police involved in her brother's killing be held accountable.
Marc Bennett, district attorney for Sedgwick County, said his office will dismiss state charges against Barriss. He explained that the defendant would receive a longer prison time in the federal case compared to what he could get in the state court.
Other Notable Cases Of Swatting
Almost any person can become a victim of swatting. However, celebrities are often the ones that swatters go after the most.
In 2013, police Los Angeles received a call that an armed man was at the Hollywood home British actor and comedian Russell Brand. Several officers were sent in to check the area, but they did not find any crimes or other incidents.
Pop singer Justin Bieber also fell victim to swatters a year earlier. A SWAT team was dispatched to his address because of reports of a similar armed individual prowling the estate. No such person was found.
Meanwhile, a 12-year-old boy in Southern California targeted That '70s Show and Two and a Half Men star Ashton Kutcher. The young swatter was prosecuted and sentenced in a juvenile court.