back to article Trio indicted after police SWAT prank call leads to cops killing bloke

Three men were this week indicted for their alleged roles in a fatal police "swatting" of a home in Kansas, USA. Tyler Barriss, Casey Viner, and Shane Gaskill will all face charges after a district court grand jury ruled (PDF) to indict them on multiple counts related to the December 28, 2017 death of Andrew Finch – who was …

Page:

  1. James O'Shea Silver badge

    Lock ‘em up

    Toss key away. Do not let them see sunlight again. Say bye.

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: Lock ‘em up

      Don't worry folks! The trigger happy moron who actually pulled the trigger and shot an innocent, unarmed man in his own home as he answered the door won't face any charges.

      Edit: Just like many other US cases, and a much smaller handful in the UK. Just as Cresside "Teflon" Dick has managed to become Commissioner of the Met, despite her team's incompetence that should have seen several of them (including her) sent down.

      Clarification: Contrary to what many might think from this post, I do generally like and respect the police. But there's a tiny minority who seem to be persistently immune from the law.

      1. Notas Badoff Silver badge

        You get what you pay for, and tolerate.

        There is controversy about it, but there is a continuing practice in our industry of rating people and ousting the lowest ranked n% each year. The same should happen for police depts.

        In every crowd there is a small percentage that are responsible for the majority of misbehaviour. Getting rid of them, and being seen to do so, would go a long way to repairing the reputation of police depts.

        We'd have to pay police better to get non-scum - I'm all for that. Insurance against riots...

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "The trigger happy moron who actually pulled the trigger"

        The "moron" actually had wholly fabricated information - about someone who already killed, and held hostage other two people who were at risk of life.

        Here there's been questioning when a divorcing cop killed his wife and two daughters - it looks the daughters could have been saved had the police tried to break into instead of waiting hours.

        There are difficult decisions to take, and without the right information - often very had to obtain - it's quite easy to take the wrong one.

        And what is really terrible everything started from a bunch of real morons and a videogame spat. Hope they will put in a cell without any electronic device for a long time.

        1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

          Re: "The trigger happy moron who actually pulled the trigger"

          Taking life-or-death decisions in split seconds is not easy*, not at all. It is something, however, I expect professional police forces to do with high accuracy. Just like I expect them to evaluate the reliability of their sources.

          *In an earlier life I'd been trained to do exactly that. Luckily, I never had to apply - wasn't very good at it.

          1. LDS Silver badge

            "Just like I expect them to evaluate the reliability of their sources."

            That's often the very hard part, unluckily - and in this case they were deceived explicitly - and it's hard to believe a gang of idiots could setup something like that.

            Moreover, situations like that are also much more riskier - because there is a far higher risk of misunderstanding - a real murderer will act in ways that are more predictable, a person utterly unaware of the situation won't, won't understand quickly what's happening, and that's far more dangerous.

            In the case I wrote before, the police was told and believed the daughters were already died. The autopsy revealed they were killed later. But verifying their situation was very difficult.

            In too many of these situations there is only a right decision, and many wrong ones.

          2. SundogUK

            Re: "The trigger happy moron who actually pulled the trigger"

            "Just like I expect them to evaluate the reliability of their sources." In general I agree but this was an 'ongoing' situation which they had strong reason to believe could go lethal at any moment.

      3. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Lock ‘em up

        ....Clarification: Contrary to what many might think from this post, I do generally like and respect the police. But there's a tiny minority who seem to be persistently immune from the law.....

        I like and respect the concept of a force that polices with the consent of the people, operating within a tight legislative framework designed to ensure that an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that justice is visible and seen to be done.

        Trouble is, we don't have that ALL policement are effectively immune from the law - you just only notice it when they have to exercise that immunity. I suspect that the tiny minority are actually the policemen who are still operating under the old regime....

      4. Unclezip

        Re: Lock ‘em up

        There are a few good apples. Cops in the U.S. are more likely to shoot you just for kicks anymore.

        1. katgod

          Re: Lock ‘em up

          Unfortunately the color of your skin determines the odds of getting shot.

    2. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

      Re: Lock ‘em up

      the cops certainly should be.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is there no degree of indirect homicide, like the UK manslaughter, to cover such a case where the outcome was likely to be foreseen?

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Is there no degree of indirect homicide, like the UK manslaughter, to cover such a case where the outcome was likely to be foreseen?

      Yes, there is. For a full explanation and description of regional differences, see the Wikipedia article on "manslaughter".

      IANAL but I don't think a manslaughter charge should apply in this case because, in all jurisdictions where the crime of manslaughter is recognised, the distinction between it and murder is that there was no intention of killing the victim. OTOH, its quite possible that when a SWAT team is set up to target somebody, the target will be killed. Especially if the SWATters are led to believe that he is an armed killer and this is happening in the USA: elsewhere the cops are less trigger-happy. If the target is killed in these circumstances, it seems to me that the person who made the call is guilty of murder and anybody else associated with the crime is guilty of being an accessory to murder or of incitement to murder.

      1. tonyBeen

        You're slightly mistaken about your understanding of manslaughter and, certainly in a UK context, this situation would/could be prosecuted as manslaughter.

        In the UK, it is sufficient if there is an unlawful act (eg falsely calling the police) and the act is one which "all sober and reasonable people would realise would subject the victim to the risk of some physical harm resulting there from, albeit not serious harm".

        The defendant doesn't have to realise this and there only has to be the possibility that there is some risk of possible harm to the victim that any reasonable person could forsee.

        I'm sure you'd agree that getting a SWAT team to storm another person's house would involve the risk of some physical harm to them? If the victim then dies then the person who made the call could be charged with manslaughter - at least in the UK.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          it couldnt be manslaughter as they had no connection or correlation with the actual death. Accessory would be appropriate. The fact that the SWAT are trained would also be a defence of the manslaughter as the trained SWAT would have had an internal investigation as to why they had to shoot the person (justifying it). You couldnt charge the caller with manslaughter and let the SWAT off under UK law, that cannot happen. The killing would be "lawful" on account of the SWAT being let off.

          The charges in the UK would be very slim sentencing-wise.

          That is why, if you want to kill someone in the UK then get tanked up and run them over, 2 years if you have a clean record.

          The UK has some shocking laws for these sorts of things.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "That is why, if you want to kill someone in the UK then get tanked up and run them over, 2 years if you have a clean record."

            "Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink

            You may get:

            14 years’ imprisonment

            an unlimited fine

            a ban from driving for at least 2 years

            an extended driving test before your licence is returned

            "

            It's also due to be upped to life.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              "You may get:"

              Emphasis on "may"

              Unless you have an extensive criminal record and are showing no remorse you'll get something on the lenient end of the scale.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Yes, but it is not what US prosecution does.

      It piles a whole garbage dump worth of accusations on the target trying to get a guilty plea deal.

      One of the favourites in this case is wire fraud which can cover everything from submitting wrong information to police and all the way to fake timesheets.

    3. Mycho Silver badge

      Disclaimer: IANAYOAL

      This is the general idea behind "Felony Murder" as I understand it, you commit an applicable crime and someone dies as a result of that crime = murder.

      Why that doesn't apply to these events I don't know.

    4. kain preacher Silver badge

      "Is there no degree of indirect homicide, like the UK manslaughter, to cover such a case where the outcome was likely to be foreseen?"

      Two charges are appropriate here . Felony murder (murder in the compression of crime). 2nd degree murder. That's when you did not intend to kill some, but reassemble person could fore see that your actions might lead to some ones death.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

    Wire Fraud?

    WFT? I know it's the generic "go to" for Federal charges being laid but I'm struggling to see how it's a relevant charge.

    As for the rest of it, here's hoping they end up getting to play "Call of Booty: Cigarette Trader" for their new cellmates for a very long time.

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Wire Fraud?

      ...they used a phone?

      1. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

        Re: Wire Fraud?

        I guess that makes as much sense as any other explanation.

  5. Mayday Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Yank Culture Issues

    Multiple problems here.

    1) Guns are so prevalent in this society that it's plausible that someone _would_ have been able to murder someone and hold hostages. Therefore in this situation the cops would be called in such a manner.

    2) Cops decide to shoot this bloke when he steps outside, without him even yelling threats or certainly not brandishing a weapon. I have a mate who is an Aussie cop in a equivalent unit to US SWAT and when he does this sort of thing they never shoot until it goes pear shaped. At worst if the bad guy points a weapon at the cops he warns them to drop it then, and only then he would shoot. He, and those in jurisdictions outside of USA would never shoot until a threat was proven.

    So - sort it out USA. Your affection with firearms and some right to bear them seems to be more important than all the people getting killed each day. There's been more yanks killed in school shootings this year than soldiers killed on active duty. Now someone totally innocent is dead because of a prank phone call. Can anyone not see the problem here?

    Don't get me wrong, I quite like America and always have a good time when I'm there but this is a massive issue.

    1. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

      Re: Yank Culture Issues

      Hah. Aussie cops (in particular Victoria) have a well known reputation for killing people in similar situations. That's a policing culture thing, not a US one.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Yank Culture Issues

      Rubber bullets

      Taser

      Fire hose

      ... there are plenty of non-fatal alternatives to shooting an innocent man dead.

      1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

        Re: Yank Culture Issues

        plenty of non-fatal alternatives

        The correct term is "less lethal"(1). Rubber bullets (no matter that these days the term often refers to other things) are known for being able to hospitalise, maim, or even kill people. Tasers aren't likely to cause maiming injury, but can kill.

        Even a water cannon ("fire hose") can kill people - some people have weak spots in their skulls, and if they fall just wrong, they can receive fatal head injuries. Even people without such spots can get serious, even fatal, head injuries.

        But although you can't justify calling those things "non-fatal", they *are* less lethal.

        (1) A curious example of what sounds at first like a euphemism being in fact a more accurate description. These things aren't "non-fatal" because they *can* kill, but they *are* less lethal than actual bullets.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Yank Culture Issues

          Even in the UK it would be less likely that officers would go into a "reported firearms situation" with tasers drawn instead of firearms. I know the system is different but certainly in the US where is FAR more likely to be true (that the reported person has a boatload of guns and it going psycho) so the officers most certainly wouldnt be thinking "lets break out the tear gas and tasers" rather than "draw guns"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yank Culture Issues

            Even in the UK it would be less likely that officers would go into a "reported firearms situation" with tasers drawn instead of firearms.

            Whereas in the US, police go into a parking ticket violation situation with tasers.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Yank Culture Issues

              You don't bring a taser to a gunfight.

              Guns are exactly what you need when confronting a (potential) armed psycho, whether you're a SWAT officer or a citizen acting in self defense. Guns don't murder people. Psychos do.

              In this case, it seems several people went psycho, including the cop.

              1. fajensen Silver badge

                Re: Yank Culture Issues

                Guns are exactly what you need when confronting a (potential) armed psycho,

                Why not some Howitzers? Or po-lice can learn from the Russians: Stich the entire building with a mobile 30 mm AA battery and let their god(s) sort the remains out (some assembly required, but, God is probably bored and likes a puzzle)? Flamethrowers? Space-junk dropped from orbit?

                Soo much Potential to be afraid of that one can never be sure about having enough weaponry!

      2. SundogUK

        Re: Yank Culture Issues

        '..shooting an innocent man..'

        Pillock. They had been told he had already killed.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Yank Culture Issues

          They had been told he had already killed.

          So then - acting on false information (that they could have and should have verified - the guy who opened the door had no other resemblance to the purported shooter other than being white and male), someone shoots and kills someone who is guilty only of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

          Sounds pretty much like "they shot and killed an innocent man".

          (And, even if he had already killed, the Police are not[1] allowed to be judge, jury and executioner)

          [1] In civilised jurisdictions

    3. Aodhhan Bronze badge

      Re: Yank Culture Issues

      Apparently you like to comment without researching the entire facts.

      The police didn't just shoot him when he walked out the door and there was resistance--likely based on the fact he wasn't exactly an innocent in the eyes of the law. Might want to find out why he was resisting and not following directions.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    May want to do something with that training

    Those are supposed to be the "elite" police forces? I shudder to think what the regular police are like.

    Here in Europe, the training of special operations police forces can be summarised as "resolving dangerous / conflictive situations by containment, negotiation and no loss of life if at all possible". They are specifically trained to protect life, which makes them radically different to special operations military forces, whose speciality is ending life quickly and efficiently.

    Somewhere in Youtube there is an interesting documentary about the French GIGN where this is explained and repeatedly stressed by the force's founding officers.

    The incident a few months ago where a Lt. Col. of the Gendarmerie lost his life after exchanging places with a hostage illustrates well this ethos.

    May I suggest the Merkins could learn a thing or two from the old continent?

    And before anyone says anything, we're no strangers to firearms. Europeans are keen hunters and e.g., in Switzerland almost every household has at least one category A weapon anyway.

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: May want to do something with that training

      Those are supposed to be the "elite" police forces?

      No, they are not. Most of those police SWAT teams are made from good, olde, regular, "Sheriff Dwayne Pickles and Mates", who liked the raise and all that military kit they get for free via the 1033 Program because they have a SWAT team. At some point, a long time ago, they obviously started scraping the barrel on the staffing.

      And that's only the police: The Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service all have SWAT teams.

      Authorities acting like a bunch of kids: Everyone has to have a SWAT team! Everyone gets to be 'L33t and have a Real Soldier Gun and a Gold Star 'cause they are spechul! Amateur Hour all year around, basically.

  8. Peter Prof Fox

    A cop pulled the trigger

    When s/he had no reason.

    Obviously the instigators should face serious charges too.

    These are two different things.

  9. Brian Miller Silver badge

    Officer could still face charges

    Wichita police officer Justin Rapp could still face federal charges. The feds have brought charges when local officers have been exonerated by the local DA.

    1. Bitsminer

      Re: Officer could still face charges

      Umm. Violation of his civil rights.

      Even the 4 cops that assaulted Rodney King got charged with that one. And King didn't die of the beating.

  10. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Any NRA comment?

    Surely the NRA had something to say about the shooting?

    Under Kansas 'stand your ground' laws, do law abiding citizens residing at home now have the legal grounds to assume that approaching Police officers are hostile and can be shot legally?

    This is a serious question, would you open your front door in Kansas if there were police outside?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Any NRA comment?

      Actually, I would open the front door in any city, town, etc. But... upon doing so, it would be slow with my yelling "I'm coming out" and have my hands raised. I had a local cop pay us a visit last week do to a misdirected phone call. My wife called 911 instead of 411 (fat fingered the phone) but after explaining, they still sent a cop out to check. I did that.. slowly opened while telling him I was coming out, and hands in plain sight. He actually thanked me for doing so. We had a nice chat, he checked my wife to make sure she really was ok.. all was well.

      So yes, I would do it the same way in Kansas, LA, anywhere, any country. Sidenote: I've done things this way for about 20 years just because.... Luckily, the police have only been at my door maybe 3-4 times total to check or followup on an issue.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Any NRA comment?

        @Mark 85

        Actually, I would open the front door in any city, town, etc. But... upon doing so, it would be slow with my yelling...

        In your case, it might have worked. But I have to be super bias and presume your are not a person of colored skin.

        My advice would be different as it's clear that those polices are extremely reactive, so everything you do or look like will increase your chance of getting killed. So

        #0 Expect to be arrested and killed. There is no real justice and you could be blamed for murder. Kiss your family goodbye.

        #1 Keep calm and avoid doing ANY Thing that changes what they see different seconds before. If your lights are turned on, leave it on. If you were asleep, stay on the bed. Let them break in it can keep the mood calmer. If you wanted to move toward the door to the police, do so slowly.

        #2 Call the police again. No crime will re-call the police when there are already police on the scene.

        #3 Put your hands where they can see your hand. If they are not in front of you yet, then put your hands behind your head. If they are in front of you, slowly turn your body around and then rise your hand and put them behind your back. Everything on your face will encourage them to shot you, including looking at them.

        #4 Avoid talking at all if any in general, especially if they are yelling.

      2. lglethal Silver badge
        Go

        Re: Any NRA comment?

        @ Mark 85. This is definitely an American culture thing. The fact that you feel the need to come out of your own house slowly, with warning and with hands in plain sight just to greet a police officer is, well, staggering.

        I'm an Aussie who has lived all through Europe and Asia. Never have I ever felt the need when opening the door to police to act in that way. I have always simply treated them like normal people. And they have always responded in kind.

        In no place that I've lived do I need to assume that the cops knocking on my door means that my life is in danger from those very same cops. It sounds like something you'd expect from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, or a hundred other corrupt third world countries. The fact you feel that way in America says that America has a major cultural issue there...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Any NRA comment?

          > It sounds like something you'd expect from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, or a hundred other corrupt third world countries.

          Actually, no. By and large, police there live truly miserable lives but it's a vocational thing that's why they do it, and they're usually really nice chaps. Chances are they will be more afraid of you than the other way around.

      3. TheBadja

        Re: Any NRA comment?

        What a country. Children go to school expecting to be shot and answering your door to police can be fatal.

        1. SundogUK

          Re: Any NRA comment?

          "Children go to school expecting to be shot"

          No they don't. They are about a thousand times more likely to be killed by a car on the school run then they are to be killed by a school shooter.

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Any NRA comment?

        my yelling "I'm coming out" and have my hands raised

        So - your interaction with the police is predicated on the fact that they can, and will, shoot you if they feel uncomfortable.

        And you claim to be living in a civilised society?

      5. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Any NRA comment?

        I should explain some things. Yes, I'm white. But this goes back to several decades ago when I lived in a rather large city and not in the "best" neighborhood. The cops got the address wrong and came pounding on my door late at night. I came damn close to being shot because of my actions and theirs. I learned a bit since then. Like if the cops pull you over, keep your hands where they can see them. Once the initial contact is made, then I'll step out of the car and maybe have a smoke. Depends on the cop. So my actions say more about me than anything else as the local cops where I live now are actually pretty easy going.

        Yeah, there's good cops and then there are those with a power trip. We do have issues with the cops in this country but also with some of the citizens. We have a real mess on our hands especially in the larger cities.

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019