A Los Angeles man admitted to police that he placed a faked emergency call to 911 operators last year that led to a fatal police-involved shooting in Witchita, Kansas, an L.A. police detective testified in a Kansas court Tuesday, the Witchita Eagle reports.
Tyler Raj Barriss, 25, was charged last year with involuntary manslaughter, giving false alarm, and interference with law-enforcement officers. He was extradited to Kansas from California. In his preliminary hearing on Tuesday, the judge in the case ruled that there was sufficient evidence to hold Barriss for trial.
Wichita police say Barriss made a fake phone call to authorities on Dec. 28 after an argument over a small wager on a “Call of Duty” match. The person he argued with allegedly gave Barriss a false address, which Barriss used to lead police to the home of 28-year-old Andrew Finch. Finch was shot and killed by police when he came to the door.
Tuesday’s hearing included testimony from the Los Angeles police detective who questioned Barriss following his arrest as well as the Wichita police officer who fatally shot Finch.
In his testimony, Los Angeles police detective Edward Dorroh told the court Tuesday that Barriss admitted to going to a local library in Los Angeles to sign into the WiFi there with his smartphone and place the fake calls to police.
“To cut to the chase, he confessed,” Dorroh said Tuesday, according to the Witchita Eagle. “It was straightforward.”
The detective also said that Barriss told him he knew how dangerous making those calls was and then read what Barriss told him, from a transcript of the police interview: “I did know that, yeah. I’m not gonna deny that. I did know. It’s just the fact that the worst possible outcome happened is so unfortunate.”
Wichita Deputy Chief Troy Livingston previously said that police arrived at Finch’s home shortly after receiving calls to the city’s town hall. They arrived at the address given, believing they were responding to a murder and hostage situation. Police shot and killed Finch after he appeared to lower his hands while standing in front of his home. After the shooting, police discovered four other people inside, but no body or any hostages. This is believed to be the first swatting incident to involve a fatality.
The officer who fired the fatal shot will not be criminally charged, the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office announced last month. But the DA added that the shooting should not have happened and noted that the investigation only weighs potential criminal charges, not civil liability or potential police department policy violations.
In making his determination, District Attorney Marc Bennett concluded that the officer who fired the single fatal shot from his rifle believed that Finch had drawn a gun from his waistband and was raising it to shoot at officers who thought they were responding to a deadly hostage situation.
The officer who fired, identified as Justin Rapp, testified in court Tuesday that he didn’t see a weapon in Finch’s hands before firing his gun at him, according to the Witchita Eagle.
Barriss faces unrelated charges in connection with another swatting incident that occurred in Canada, according to the Globe and Mail. Calgary police say they charged Barriss with mischief and fraud following a swatting incident on Dec. 22. Calgary 911 said it received a phone call that day from a man who claimed he shot his father, and was holding his mother and younger brother hostage. He gave them an address in Calgary’s Bankview neighborhood belonging to an unnamed woman, who told police she was targeted because of her online persona. No one was hurt in the Calgary case.
The Sedgwick DA’s office is also looking into an April incident in which Barriss apparently managed to get on Twitter from jail, where he threatened to swat others, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said.
Barriss’ next appearance is in June.