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Crime United States

Family of 'Swat' Victim Sues Kansas Police, Lawmakers Propose 40-Year Jail Terms (cbsnews.com) 291

An anonymous reader brings more updates about the 'Swat' call that led to a fatal police shooting: The gamer who dared another gamer to send police officers to his home had offered the address where he used to live, until his family was evicted in 2016. While he may also be charged for the fatal shooting that followed, the victim's family has now sued the city of Wichita as well as its police officers, with their attorney saying the city "is trying to put all the blame on the young man in California who placed the swatting call. But let's be clear: the swatter did not shoot the bullet that killed Andy Finch. That was an officer working under the direction of the Wichita Police Department."

The attorney points out that the 911 caller in California provided a description of the house which didn't match the actual house in Kansas, adding "How can Wichita police department officers not be trained to deal with this type of situation...? Prank calls are not new," according to CBS News. "The lawsuit cites FBI crime statistics showing Wichita has a ratio of one shooting death for every 120 officers -- a number that is 11 times greater than the national ratio and 12 times greater than the ratio in Chicago."

Meanwhle, Kansas lawmakers have introduced a new bill proposing a penalty of 10 to 40 years in prison if a swatting call ends in a person's death, which would also cause the offense to be prosecuted as murder.

One lawmaker argues that the bill is necessary because under the current system if a person phones in a swat call, "there's really no consequence for his actions."
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Family of 'Swat' Victim Sues Kansas Police, Lawmakers Propose 40-Year Jail Terms

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  • by klingens ( 147173 ) on Saturday February 03, 2018 @04:04PM (#56062881)

    At the barest minimum, the swatter needs to pay the cost of the police action he caused, which will be probably a few thousand if not tens of thousands of dollars after the government accounting is done.
    Then making a false accusation and/or a false statement which could have caused other harm since the SWAT team wasn't available for real emergenicies.

    Make swatting immediately illegal with at least possible jailtime, with punitive damages and of course actual damages incurred by the police department. Then the civil suit from the victims.

    • by tinkerton ( 199273 ) on Saturday February 03, 2018 @04:12PM (#56062907)

      Why do you call it a police action. Sounds like the police treated that civilian as an enemy combatant.

      • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

        Vietnam was a "police action". The term fits.

        • Vietnam was a "police action". The term fits.

          When historians discuss Viet Nam, they don't refer to the Vietnam Police Action. It's the Vietnam War. Don't glorify the government propaganda machine.

          • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

            Note the use of scare quotes. I was saying that if the term "police action" can be applied to a war, then it can be applied to shooting an unarmed civilian.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They cannot hold people responsible for the costs, since it is only the police that determines how to react and how much cost to involve. They should, however, be held accountable for false accusation or claims involving the police, this is almost certainly already illegal and just needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

      Let's be clear though, the responsibility for the death lies 100% with the police. It is their job to ensure that they act reasonably to any circumstances. Clearly the police n

      • Sure they can. In most US jurisdictions if you call in a false fire alarm, they can charge you for the cost of the fire department response. Why would police be different?

      • So I'll run a screwdriver down the side of your car. I won't have to pay because I didn't know in advance how much the respray would cost.

        The DeVry JD alumni meeting is over there ------------------->

    • by drewsup ( 990717 ) on Saturday February 03, 2018 @04:21PM (#56062949)

      I would go one more, If i call in a false fire alarm, and a fire truck, while lawfully going through a red light, accidentally hits a car who didnt hear the siren, killing the young family in the car, am I not ultimately responsible for their deaths? Anyone calling in a swatting should be responsible for not only any deaths, but the civil suits that will fly after.
      I am in no way excusing the excessive force used by the police, but the swat caller set in motion a chain of events that led to the whole murder.

      • It should never be lawful to go through a red light. Especially now that technology exists to make the lights green for the emergency vehicles. I've almost been involved in an accident twice where a police cruiser was going so fast through town that I barely was able to react before he blasted through the light that was green for me. Due to buildings and other obstructions, I had like 1-2 seconds tops to slam on my brakes to avoid a high speed collision right in the middle of the city. And guess who wou
        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          Around here (BC), emergency vehicles are supposed to only go through a red light if safe, which in practice means they pretty well come to a stop at a red light, make sure the intersection is clear, then go through the intersection.
          Cops are also supposed to stop giving chase if it is dangerous due to high speeds etc and I can think of at least one case where a cop was convicted of dangerous driving causing death IIRC for driving stupidly with his siren on and killing someone.

          • Because of the nail the shoe was lost
            because of the shoe the horse was lost
            because of the horse the rider was lost
            because of the rider, the message was lost
            because of the message the battle was lost
            because of the battle the kingdom was lost

            So the king sues the iron monger that provided the iron that made the nail?

            • So the king sues the iron monger that provided the iron that made the nail?

              If the cavalry horse-shoe maker was intentionally acting to cause this chain of events, then yes, yes the king should.

              Otherwise your analogy seriously misses the point here.

            • Applying that analogy to this situation would be like suing the manufacturer of the chair that the prank caller was sitting in when he made the prank call.
          • by jrumney ( 197329 )
            If they're really in a hurry, they travel in convoy with 4 motorcycles that speed ahead in pairs to clear alternate intersections.
      • I would go one more, If i call in a false fire alarm, and a fire truck, while lawfully going through a red light, accidentally hits a car who didnt hear the siren, killing the young family in the car, am I not ultimately responsible for their deaths?

        I would argue that the answer to your question is no.

        Take a very slightly different circumstance. My house is on fire, I call in a fire alarm and someone is killed in a traffic accident in a similar manner to the one you describe. Am I responsible for their deat

      • while lawfully going through a red light, accidentally hits a car who didnt hear the siren
        It is only "lawfully" when the driver is certain that all conflicting traffic has stopped. In other words if he hits one, it was not lawfully. At least not in my country.

      • by mtmra70 ( 964928 )

        Poor analogy. If I call in a false fire alarm, the fire department shows up, and without investigating applies water to the entire building, who is at fault for the water damage? I would certainly say the fire department since they blindly applied water without all the facts.

    • At the barest minimum, the swatter needs to pay the cost of the police action he caused, which will be probably a few thousand if not tens of thousands of dollars after the government accounting is done.

      Simply monetary? No. Easily fixed with a GoFundMe.
      The swatter needs to go to jail as well.
    • Dude, the accountants and auditors in this case are going to cost tens of thousands of dollars - it will run over into the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, especially with all the press handling.

    • I agree, but your approach may only help with a fraction of swatters. Many of those swatters are underage, or their families are already so deeply in debt, that an additional bill they don't pay won't do anything to them. No, in addition to all of what you're suggesting, I think that if you swat somebody (regardless of age):

      * You should automatically lose your xbox (even a family one), any other gaming console, your computer (if it's in your room), your tablet (if any of your accounts are on it), your smart

    • by dAzED1 ( 33635 )
      An innocent person died. An innocent life is only worth a few thousand dollars in your mind?
  • Fucking cops (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Saturday February 03, 2018 @04:10PM (#56062899)
    We need to get our police under fucking control. They're not heroes. They're not judge, jury or executioner. They're employees of our local governments. They need to be treated as such. The particular government employees who murdered this person need to be fired and prosecuted immediately.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They have guns, you don't. They can use them with impunity, you can't. He who has the guns makes the rules.

  • by cats-paw ( 34890 ) on Saturday February 03, 2018 @04:14PM (#56062915) Homepage

    we have a police violence problem. the victim was killed by the police and was unarmed. Well I think he was unarmed, apparently it's difficult to find that out. No matter, if he needed to be armed he would have been.

    by all means let's put the prankster in jail for life and let the officer who showed such incredibly poor judgment and a police department that is operating under almost amazing levels of incompetence skate away without even a slap on the wrist.

    This is not police thinking they were in a bad situation, this is a situation in which police think they need to handle every situation with a SWAT team.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 03, 2018 @04:22PM (#56062955)

      we have a police violence problem. the victim was killed by the police and was unarmed. Well I think he was unarmed, apparently it's difficult to find that out. No matter, if he needed to be armed he would have been.

      Indeed, there was a report just this week about police in Baltimore planting toy guns to justify shootings. That's the sort of thing that erodes confidence, and extends beyond mere violence, to a pattern of corruption.

      This is not police thinking they were in a bad situation, this is a situation in which police think they need to handle every situation with a SWAT team.

      To be fair, this isn't a case where that's evident. It is a problem, but don't use this to excuse it. Instead, quite rationally appreciate that while they were mislead into circumstances where they would appropriately deploy a SWAT team, the use of force was nonetheless not properly warranted, and treat the police officer appropriately. If they fired in violation of established protocols and training, then hold them accountable. If they were trained to shoot in such circumstances, hold their trainer accountable, because such protocols are clearly inappropriate and ill-advised.

  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Saturday February 03, 2018 @04:26PM (#56062977)

    Every state government ought to have a group whose sole purpose in to investigate and prosecute suspected crimes by local police.

    We also need to outlaw qualified immunity [washingtonpost.com].

    • by jodido ( 1052890 )
      There's a Civilian Review Board in New York City and it's a sick joke--it's totally useless for getting any kind of justice where the cops are concerned.
    • prosecutors are generally in it for political points. It's a great way to launch a political career. This tends to make them hard on crime (since that's a popular political issue) and therefor more likely to look the other way at accusations of excessive force. Then you add to that how hard it is to get a jury to convict and it's basically impossible. I suspect if we tried to go independent it would a) be massively underfunded and b) be staffed by folks who couldn't make it as a regular prosecutor.
      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        Can at least have cops and DA's from different jurisdictions/forces doing the investigating. Police officers shoot an unarmed man minding his own business? At least have the county sheriff's office investigate. Oh, it was the county sheriff's that did the shooting? Have the state highway patrol do the investigation. etc.

        There would still be an institutional bias but it wouldn't be as bad as organizations clearing themselves of their actions.

  • Our justice system is getting mucked up with innuendo and complexity.
    BTW I am not a lawyer so I truely don't know what I am talking about ;)

    Example
    Murder Premeditated - did the individual do things in the real world related to planning the crime.
    Murder Hate Crime - what was the individual thinking/feeling when the crime happened.

    Do we really need all these special new laws? When our standard laws might be used as a path to justice.

    Just something I wonder about as an uneducated lay person ;)

    Just m
    • Murder Premeditated - did the individual do things in the real world related to planning the crime.
      Murder Hate Crime - what was the individual thinking/feeling when the crime happened.

      Do we really need all these special new laws? When our standard laws might be used as a path to justice.

      Yes, we do. We need all these special case laws so when police stop someone, there is at least one law they are breaking unknowningly, allowing police to arrest, detain and search their victim for more criminal activity.

      Our justice system is very very broken. In a lot of municipalities, justice is a means for the municipality to make money. It's part of their budget to include projected fines and such paid by victims of police.

      Don't believe it? Just take a census of any detention facility in the USA, te

      • Rich people aren't in jail, they can afford to make deals that exchange jail sentences for a big juicy fines and court fees.

        Sorry for double post, but I had to add in.. rich people make bail, they can afford lawyers to drag the thing through court for years, costing the state enormous amounts of money. While poor people can't make bail, rot in jail without means to make enough money to pay their fines or hire a lawyer, so they rot in jail longer, get a public defender eager to make a deal with their colleague at the other table. Debtors prison basically. It's all super broken and in dire need of massive reforms.

  • Here's a question, why shouldn't swatting be considered assault with a deadly weapon.

    There are definitely big issues with how police deal with reports of crimes, recall also the swat team showing up recently at the home of someone with a phone mistakenly reported as stolen. A big issue is that for someone not a criminal and not currently engaged in a crime the police appearing is entirely unexpected and their brain isn't primed to process the situation and even realize commands are aimed at them.

    • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday February 03, 2018 @04:56PM (#56063055)

      ... I carry a gun. Because, not only is carrying an entire cop just too heavy, they tend to go off accidentally far too often.

    • Taken in isolation, your statement presumes that the police are only a weapon and have no agency. I agree that the caller should face more severe charges than filing a false report, but it's quite dangerous to think of the police as little more than a tool to be wielded.
  • by Beeftopia ( 1846720 ) on Saturday February 03, 2018 @08:20PM (#56063739)

    * If I lock someone in a cage with a hungry lion - it's not I who killed them.
    * I release a cobra into someone's bed and it bites them - it's not I who killed them.
    * I chain someone to a pole in hyena country - it's not I who killed them.

    This is all true - but it ignores the context, which is that I put them into an extremely dangerous situation which led to their deaths.

    • Tigers, lions and hyena's oh my aren't people, and aren't trained to deal with hostile situations. Cops are. And when said cops fuck up - like shooting at the first unarmed guy to come out the door within seconds when they were at distance and behind vehicles and ballistic shields - they should go to jail. For a longer sentence than the prank caller.

      Being a cop isn't even in the top 20 most dangerous jobs in the USA, once you take out car accidents which don't have anything to do with them needing to get

      • Tigers, lions and hyena's oh my aren't people, and aren't trained to deal with hostile situations. Cops are. And when said cops fuck up - like shooting at the first unarmed guy to come out the door within seconds when they were at distance and behind vehicles and ballistic shields - they should go to jail. For a longer sentence than the prank caller.

        This fellow used social engineering to create a context for the cops: that they had an active shooter/imminent mass murder situation, and that he'd tied up his

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