back to article Scumbag who phoned in a Call of Duty 'swatting' that ended in death pleads guilty to dozens of criminal charges

One of three people charged over the December 2017 “swatting” death of 28-year-old Andrew Finch in the US has pleaded guilty. Tyler Barriss, 25, was indicted in May for making a bogus 911 call to police in Wichita, Kansas, urging officers to send out a SWAT team. As a result, on December 28, the cops showed up outside Finch's …

TRT
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Re: Hostage situations...

Can't help but think of the conversation the Feds have in the helicopter in Die Hard... Or indeed in any number of films where hostages are set up to look like captors. You just don't know who or what is in front of you.

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Re: Hostage situations...

That's why you always send out the white hostage

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Anonymous Coward

The Dutch Police

They do however have excellent moustaches and know how to handle a truncheon. Schtop, schtop!

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Re: Hostage situations...

Same here, damage to my shoulder means it can be excruciatingly painful to raise my arm; anything that gets my hand above shoulder height is potentially going to have me in serious pain.

Back on Topic, the idiots involved should look forwards to an electrified gaming chair.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Hostage situations...

One useful way around this trigger-happiness of US police would be to add in some more technology. Specifically, when responding to an incident involving a report of armed suspects, send in a robot of some description which doesn't look in the least little bit human, and which is not armed with anything in the slightest bit lethal.

This de-escalates the entire situation; if the suspect is innocent then they will comply with the cop talking through the robot's transceiver to put their hands into the handcuffs and kindly walk out and say hello to the SWAT squad.

If on the other hand they are armed and want to shoot something, then they can have a briefly entertaining time blowing hell out of police property that isn't alive and the shooting of which is no more than criminal damage, after which the human police will point guns at them and demand surrender.

This sort of thing ought to help reduce the carnage caused by police who think that they have no alternative save shooting.

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Re: Hostage situations...

You never ever shoot to injure. That's a stupid movie cliche - the idea that it's possible to do this.

If you shoot, it is to protect your own life or someone else's.

In that case, shooting to injure is just wrong, because it does not remove the threat.

If you do this, the inquiry or court will be perfectly correct in judging that you didn't think your target was a serious enough threat that shooting him was justified.

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Re: Hostage situations...

Let's put ourselves in the cop's shoes. If you have a hostage situation, why do you think the hostage taker is going to come out alone and in plain sight to see what's up? He's either the dumbest hostage taker in the world and has unwittingly just let the hostages go, he's a hostage who's been released, or he's totally clueless as to what you're talking about and likely can't hear or understand the vague and often contradictory commands being given.

This is about training, bad training. They're taught to neutralize the any potential threat and then ask questions - maybe, collateral damage be damned.

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Re: Hostage situations...

"In this case the police merely acted as a proxy - so the person who originally did the swatting is guilty of "pulling the trigger by proxy". (If such a term do exist in law)."

No, he's not. He's guilty of lots of offences, but he isn't in control of the police. He's relying on bad training to get the guy killed. Actually, he's not even doing that : if he wanted to get his friend killed, he'd have given them HIS address. We have to assume he was trying to frighten his friend by calling the cops for real, not by having some killed for real. Either way, he probably isn't actually guilty of anything more serious than wasting police time, misinformation, putting the victim in harm's way etc. The policeman pulled the trigger, and he did it in contradiction of his training.

As to whether the policeman should react like that for his own protection : in a dark alley, without a clear view of the assumed shooter, with no backup : yes, it might be a reasonable reaction.

He's been called out, with support, to an incident with no verified report of a problem and shoots a person who is outside their house and has got there without preparation, carrying nothing visible and until recently having his hands up. It's likely he drops them slowly, tiredly, unconvinced he is at risk. Not in a way that appears to be diving for a concealed weapon.

The likelihood is that the victim can, at worst, bring out a heavy handgun and fire it quickly without the opportunity to aim it. In comparison, the policeman has, if he's working to training, got a rifle with which he can make an accurate shot over a range the victim can't match, he has cover behind his cruiser, and has colleagues also able to shoot if sufficient threat exists. If the victim brings up a handgun, he's almost certainly not going to kill the policeman.

What we have here is a situation created by the actions of the telephone caller and for which they should be locked away. But the actions of the policeman are those of an untrained, poorly prepared trigger-happy fool who panics when there is a small change to the situation. This is not what police gun training is for.

And yes, a lot like the Menezes case : innocent victim, misinformation, poor police training leading to frightened officers, panic reactions and trigger-happy result . Except that in that case it was not even a situation created by a criminally stupid perpetrator. In that case, it was the police that also generated the initial situation. The only saving point is that they had prepared themselves for a bomb threat rather than a lone gunman, so the reaction of killing on movement has some limited sense behind it.

I say limited because you can't necessarily stop a suicide bomber by shooting him : there is equally good chance that killing him will permit his explosives to detonate, so the risk to the police or bystanders isn't reduced by shooting. Shootiung does not improve your chances of survival against a bomb blast. Again, poor training, bad thinking, fear, leading to panic reactions.

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Stop

Re: Hostage situations...

"shoot to injure" is impractical. Center body mass is easier to hit with a pistol, and if you MISS your target you could do a lot WORSE [like ricochet and hit civilians]. Very few 'crack shot' pistol wielders would be able to 'shoot to injure' except at very close range. There are just too many factors involved, and pistols just aren't accurate like rifles are.

Now if a sniper with a proper sniper rifle and spotter did a single head shot, you could make the case that he could've shot the guy in the leg instead. but for a cop wielding a pistol, or even a sub-machine gun, the accuracy just isn't "there".

So, like in the military, you're taught to go for "center mass" with pistols. [yeah it was that way when i was in the Navy, to qualify with a pistol for security reasons, twice a year if I remember correctly - aim carefully, exhale and squeeze - and I was never 'sharpshooter' quality, probably because I have long gorilla arms and the sighting moves around too much]

it's best NOT to make assumptions about firearms that are based on "pandering to the perception" and television/movies. In other words, if you haven't been taught to use a weapon in a military or police context, you probably won't "get it". [NRA classes ARE, as I understand it, similar to police and military training]. But yeah we're in a world where only a very SMALL percentage of the population has military or police experience.

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Re: Hostage situations...

@AC "Once the decision has been made that deadly force is required..."

Well if deadly force is "required" - which implies it is going to happen anyway - why bother shouting orders for hands up or lie face down? Surely they'd may as well kill him as soon as he's out of the house.

And who decided that "deadly force was required" without knowing any actual facts about the situation, other than an unverified phone call from an unverified source with no verified evidence of any wrongdoing having taken place? I'd be hauling their arse up in court for murder as well.

I'd have thought that taking someone down with non-lethal force was just common sense. Maybe I'm just getting old.

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Re: Hostage situations...

It looks like the problem starts with drawing one's weapon. When your really really southern not-really-neighbours get to this point, they start by drawing their key, going to the boot of the car, unlocking the safe inside it, and then drawing their weapon. If it got that far. Otherwise they just pull back and call in the specialists. Most of the bollocks gets solved well before then.

Confrontations don't typically escalate to drawn weapons, because almost no-one - crims or police - goes into them with the expectation of having a gun drawn immediately.

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Re: Hostage situations...

"All of this confirms what I think I will do if ever I find myself facing a bunch of US cops with their guns out for me: hands up, drop to my knees, hit the ground and spread-eagle. If they want to talk to me after that, I'll be listening, but I won't move until they tell me I can or come and cuff me."

Even that doesn't work all the time :-(

And even then the cops get away with it ... This guy was innocent of any crime, but this is how his execution went down:

The body camera footage shows Shaver on his knees in the hotel hallway, a few feet away from the barrel of a police officer's gun.

"Hands up in the air," an officer says.

Shaver puts his hands on the floor, then behind his back, then moves them forward again before an officer yells "Hands up in the air!" Shaver moves his hands up above his head.

"You do that again, we're shooting you, do you understand?" the officer said.

"Please, do not shoot me," Shaver said.

"Then listen to my instructions," the officer said.

"I'm trying to just do what you say," Shaver said.

"Do not put your hands down for any reason!" the officer later says to Shaver. "You think you're going to fall, you better fall on your face. Your hands go back in the small of your back or down, we are going to shoot you! Do you understand me?"

"Yes, sir," Shaver says, sobbing.

An officer then orders Shaver to crawl toward him. As Shaver crawls, he appears to reach behind him with his right hand.

That's when Brailsford fired five rounds, killing him.

More: https://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/10/us/arizona-jury-acquits-ex-cop-of-murder/index.html

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Re: Hostage situations...

Since the alleged shooter called 911 (multiple times) there's a pretty good chance he would answer´if it was real.

Not even 911. Since Barriss was swatting from another state, he had to call the police on a regular department number. Which, as many security experts have pointed out, the police should have treated as a reason to consider the calls suspect, and exercise additional caution. They did not (as is clear from the excerpts of the interviews that have been made public).

Finch flinched and that was it.

Only 10 seconds after he emerged from the house. He probably never had a clue what was going on.

There was no real attempt by the Wichita PD to de-escalate. According to the report of the sergeant in command at the scene, as soon as the door opened "multiple officers began yelling", and the sergeant elected to try to get Finch to "focus away" from them by "screaming louder".

So, essentially: There's a commotion outside. Finch steps out. There's 10 seconds of multiple people screaming at him, and then "Officer #1" shoots him, from across the street, with a rifle.

We have a word for a group that behaves that way: "mob". That's not good policing. It's not policing at all. It's just the state exercising its monopoly on violence, and it's the direct result of the past few decades of militarizing the police and fear-mongering.

Yes, confronting a possible killer in a possible hostage situation is dangerous. That's what you sign up for when you put the badge on.

I have no animosity toward the police in general. It's a necessary function. My best friend is a reserve police officer. The police in the city where my main residence is have been great, and the department near my other residence is pretty good. But there are far too many places in the US where screening, training, and procedures are criminally inadequate, and the judicial branch has largely abandoned its oversight duties.

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Re: Hostage situations...

Actually, he's not even doing that : if he wanted to get his friend killed, he'd have given them HIS address

It's not clear what you're trying to say (the antecedents of some of your pronouns are unclear), but it's almost certainly not what happened in the Finch case.

In brief:

1. Two young idiots, Viner and Gaskill, were fighting over some idiotic thing in Call of Duty.

2. Viner asked Barriss, who has form, to swat Gaskill.

3. Gaskill dared Barriss to do it, and gave him an address where he (Gaskill) had previously lived. This is where Finch and his family were currently living.

4. Barriss made the swatting calls to Wichita PD.

It's not clear what exactly any of the Three Assholes thought would happen. ("Thought" may be too strong a word to describe their mental processes.) Clearly they all share some culpability. Of course the police, as the only adults (besides Finch) actively involved, do so was well.

poor police training leading to frightened officers, panic reactions and trigger-happy result

Frankly, based on the evidence released to the public, I don't see much sign of significant fear (not enough to impede rational thought) or panic among the officers on the scene. What I see is a lot of adrenaline and machismo. They were there to Take a Bad Guy Down.

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Anonymous Coward

Cant they tell where the call was placed?

Especially if it wasn't even the same state!

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Cant they tell where the call was placed?

If you click through to the previous article, and pull up the grand jury paperwork*, you'll see it says Barriss "acquired an assigned telephone number from TextNow so it appeared to Wichita emergency personnel (with caller id) that defendant BARRISS was using a telephone with a '316' area code, the area code that includes Wichita, Kansas."

He used a Wichita number. FWIW US area codes are a little loose. Our San Francisco office has (650) phone numbers, which makes ppl think we are in San Mateo.

C.

* it's still here https://regmedia.co.uk/2018/05/24/barrissindictment.pdf

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Re: Cant they tell where the call was placed?

Especially if it wasn't even the same state!

Caller Ids are trivial to spoof and there are plenty of services which will allow you to do that.

The most common cold-caller/scammer approach in USA at present is to call from what looks like a local number from your calling area.

This issue is not specific to USA - I had a call from someone pretending to be Vodafone on Sunday spoofing their 0800 number who tried to fish my account details.

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Re: Cant they tell where the call was placed?

Especially if it wasn't even the same state!

You can get proxy numbers, make it look like you're calling from anywhere. VOIP is great.

However, you would think the first thing that would happen is that a negotiator would call the number assigned to the address in question (surely the Police have a phone book) and start a conversation before anyone even thinks about firing lethal shots.

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Re: Cant they tell where the call was placed?

"Caller Ids are trivial to spoof and there are plenty of services which will allow you to do that."

And the operator will be aware of that, and treat the information with less than complete trust. They may even have more information than we do about its veracity, source of information etc.

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Meh

Guns vs Laws

If someone wants one bad enough, no law is going to stop them. I live in a country with pretty strict gun laws, and I know there is a big black market for them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If someone wants one bad enough

But loads of gun deaths in America aren't because someone really, really wanted a gun. They're because someone was angry and guns are fucking everywhere. Laws don't make guns disappear. Science says laws do reduce the harm they cause.

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Re: Guns vs Laws

It's not when someone wants a gun that there's trouble, it's when everyone and their dog have a gun, so the proportion of nutters that is armed goes way beyond what is safe.

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Re: Guns vs Laws

Possibly; on the other hand, I'd be willing to bet that everyone really, really wanting a gun in those places (99.99% likely obtained illegally unless you're a hunter or something - which would be said 0.01%) is already a deranged psycho with runaway power-fantasies (and probably also a mobster). Certainly better than "guns everywhere" in a statistical sense, yet somehow really not all the encouraging at all if you suspect you might have the misfortune of having to deal with one of those for any reason.

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Re: Certainly better than "guns everywhere" in a statistical sense

I'd argue that's not only better statistically.

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Headmaster

Re: If someone wants one bad enough

@ac

I used to live in Chicago, people are killed by getting kicked to death, beaten with what ever is at hand, chains, knives etc. In NY, people get pushed in front of trains... I think the real problem is ANGER!

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TRT
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Re: If someone wants one bad enough

Yeah, but guns are one of the few weapons where you don't have to be up close and personal. Detachment from the act is, if not an enabler, then... well, haptic feedback. You get what I'm saying.

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Re: If someone wants one bad enough

The thing about guns being available isn't that if someone really, really wants a gun he can't get one - that'll happen through means legal and otherwise.

But if everyone and their mother don't have gun/s to hand - when [random member of society] gets themselves into a pissed off state, there isn't a firearm to hand with which they can just go and murder a group of people.

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Re: Guns vs Laws

@chivo243, while I agree with you, I fail to see where you're going. The only ones with guns was the police.

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Anonymous Coward

The word they're looking for is 'scapegoat'

I'm as keen for this lunatic to be locked up as anyone else, but the person who fired the shot bears at least the same amount of responsibility for what happened. Surely the police are trained to evaluate situations and take appropriate action. Not just shoot at the first person who looks dodgy.

Oh wait, I forgot about the second amendment - the right to be shot in a variety of stupid and unnecessary situations.

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Re: The word they're looking for is 'scapegoat'

Are we feeling a bit inferior because your Goverment, will only let you carrry an unconcealed Knife to a gunfight? Perhaphs it would be wise to clean up after your Patch, before you go worring about someone elses.

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Re: Are we feeling a bit inferior

Why don't you ask Finch how he feels?

I'd rather be alive and feeling inferior thanks. Only I don't feel inferior, I don't want to shoot anything and the fact that guns aren't easily available doesn't worry me.

Do guns make you feel superior?

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Re: Are we feeling a bit inferior

You obviously need that gun to compensate for your inferior masculinity.

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Re: The word they're looking for is 'scapegoat'

Try as I might, it’s difficult to feel inferior to a nation which voted for Donald Trump. And I say this as a citizen of a nation which voted for Theresa May and Brexit which, in my book, makes us pretty much inferior to everyone (or, at least, most nations in Europe)

One of the few things that we do have right though are our gun laws - to quote the late, great, Bill Hicks -

“England, where no one has guns: 14* deaths. United States, and I think you know how we feel about guns – whoo! I’m gettin’ a stiffy! 23,000 deaths from handguns. But there’s no

connection, and you’d be a fool and a communist to make one. There’s no connection between having a gun and shooting someone with it, and not having a gun and not shooting someone…”

*actually about 50 for England and Wales

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Re: The word they're looking for is 'scapegoat'

Are we feeling a bit inferior because your Goverment[sic], will only let you carrry[sic] an unconcealed Knife to a gunfight?

Actually I have to say, I feel pretty damn superior because folk in my country don't automatically assume any even slightly contentious situation is "a gunfight". The Wild West is long gone, and it's time some people grew the hell up and accepted that.

I'm not saying that my "Patch" as you put it doesn't have problems, but I have to say I feel very happy that I don't have to worry about my kids getting shot when the go to school, or getting shot from a hotel window when I attend a music concert. Seriously, how does an alleged "civilized" country think it's OK to have had 307 mass shootings in 311 days? And that's just mass shootings. In all, more than 12,500 people have been shot dead in the US this year, and over 24,500 injured And that is comparable to 280 knife crime deaths in total in the UK in 2018, according to our American cousins.

<sarcasm>

No, it's clear to me that the USA doesn't have a gun problem at all.

</sarcasm>

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The word they're looking for is 'scapegoat'

@Michael Habel

You shure do have a purty mouth. Fer a city boi.

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Re: The word they're looking for is 'scapegoat'

Get it right Michael, our government doesn't allow us to carry an unconcealed knife either. It's illegal to carry fixed blade knives over a certain length, and if you do end up in a fight with a knife within legal limits I wouldn't fancy your changes of avoiding prosecution.

I for one am completely happy with this. It's amazing how the US manages to stuff its collective fingers in its ears. Everyone knows the US has

A gun problem

Endemic and institutional racism

..amongst many other flaws..

However, do keep it up, you've managed to make the Little Englanders in Britain look good by comparison. Quite a feat considering the clusterfucks our country are experiencing at the moment.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: The word they're looking for is 'scapegoat'

1: Americas fetish with guns causing over 12k deaths per year.

2: The majority of the United Kingdom decided to leave a trading block

If you think those two issues even belong on the same Internet as each other, never mind the same El Reg comment, then you are deranged.

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TRT
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Re: You obviously need that gun to compensate for your inferior masculinity.

I have an oozy 9mm...

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Re: The word they're looking for is 'scapegoat'

Oh I don't know. Collective insanity is still insanity. You're just arguing over impact.

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Facepalm

Re: The word they're looking for is 'scapegoat'

"Are we feeling a bit inferior because your Goverment[sic], will only let you carrry[sic] an unconcealed Knife to a gunfight?""

a. No- because there isn't a 'gunfight' every 10 minutes here..

B. No, because I'm not a coward that needs to carry a gun to feel safe from THEM (whoever the demons in your head are... and what colo(u)r they are, probably)..

Wheres the dickhead icon?

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Paris Hilton

Re: You obviously need that gun to compensate for your inferior masculinity.

...length or width?

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TRT
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Re: Oozy 9mm ...length or width?

Both.

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Re: The word they're looking for is 'scapegoat'

Last year it was circa 50 UK gun related deaths vs circa 30 thousand deaths in the states.

Yet Americans really think all our "bad guys" still have guns.

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Shoot the cops

QUOTE

"A person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself," the Florida law states.

END-QUOTE

With the above law and given American police policy of just shooting anybody, it will soon be safer to just shoot any police officer approaching your house.

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How many mass shootings you had this year? Literally noone else in the civilized world has your troubles mate, and we don't want them.

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And, yet London is the knife muder capital of the world, supassing even New York in violent crimes. So yeah, again worry about your own mess.

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You really are a special snowflake arn't you? Look upp the statistics. If my memory is correct it was one month one year… But hey, you at least have some guns to coddle...

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Anonymous Coward

Despite hysteria, mass shootings aren't a real problem though - they are completely buried by background noise. For USA in 2016:

* gun deaths due to mass shootings: 71

* gun deaths due to accidents and war casualties: 1,305

* gun deaths due to homicides (other than mass shootings): 14,344

* gun deaths due to suicide: 22,938

* motoring deaths: 37,806

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41488081

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_vehicle_fatality_rate_in_U.S._by_year

Reducing gun ownership might at least reduce "gun deaths due to accidents"

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Snowflake

Please don't turn up the heat too much on our snowflake, he might melt ;)

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LDS
Silver badge

It's very difficult to kill tens of people in a little time with a knife. London has a gang issue, true, and with guns it would be just deadlier - with higher risks for anybody withing the bullets range.

Anyway I would prohibit carrying knives as well - we're not in the Middle Ages when carrying a knife around was a necessity - inside a city you don't need knives, unless they're stored in your toolbox, for your job - which usually aren't the knives best suited to kill people.

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