WICHITA, Kan. The Wichita police officer that fired the shot that killed Andrew Finch on a Dec. 28 "swatting" call will not face criminal charges.
Andrew Finch was shot by the police after a "swatting" prank. He was 28-year-old and from Wichita, Kansas. | Photo Undated
Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett announced the determination at a Thursday afternoon news briefing at the Sedgwick County Courthouse.
At the time of the shooting, Bennett says there was reasonable concern that Finch may have been armed with a weapon. Information was based on an emergency call that turned out to be a hoax, or a "swatting" call to draw a heavy police presence to the southwest Wichita home near Seneca and McCormick.
Bennett says the shooting should not have happened, but the decision concerning the officer can't be made from hindsight. The context of the situation had to be taken into account, he says. A 911 call that turned out to be a hoax claimed to have been made by a man who had killed his father and had taken other relatives hostage.
Bennett says he went through as many as 80 clips from body cameras on scene in which both Wichita Police Department officers and deputies with the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office responded.
In deciding that the officer who shot and killed Finch should not be charged, Bennett went to case law, basically going back to many of the self-defense laws that would apply to citizens, as well as officers out on the street.
He says there is not enough evidence to show that the officer did not act in self defense. When the shooting happened, the officer thought he was taking action to protect either himself or other officers on the scene and people in the area.
With the law that applies to his finding, Bennett says you can't make a determination with 20-20 hindsight, although it's easy to make the call now that Finch should not have been shot,
"This shooting should not have happened, but this officer's decision was made in the context of the false call," Bennett says. "To charge (the officer) would require evidence, not 20-20 hindsight that it was unreasonable for him to believe in that moment that the man who came to the door posed a risk to the officers near the house. Given the evidence provided to the officers, by dispatch, coupled with Mr. Finch's movements after opening the door, there is insufficient evidence to establish that (the officer) acted in an unreasonable manner in defense of the officers directly to the east of the house, There is insufficient evidence to overcome self defense immunity under Kansas law."
The Wichita Police Department released a statement in response to the Sedgwick County district attorney's announcement.
"This incident has weighed on the hearts of the WPD and community. Chief Gordon Ramsay and the WPD continue to extend sympathy to the Finch family and the officers involved," the department says.
The department says its next steps include an internal investigation to determine if policies and training were followed on the call, a review of training and policies to include any recommendations and an administrative review of the findings and internal action taken based on those findings.
"(Wichita Police) Chief (Gordon) Ramsay and WPD remain committed to completing an objective evaluation of this incident based upon the facts," the department says.
The attorney for Andrew Finch's family released the following statement in response to the Sedgwick County District Attorney's finding that the officer who shot and killed Finch won't face criminal charges:
“The family is devastated and disappointed by the District Attorney’s decision. Andy Finch was unjustifiably and unconstitutionally executed in the sanctity of his own home.”
Thursday evening, Eyewitness News spoke with Finch's family who says though devastated, they're already looking ahead to their day in court.