February 27, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Lawmakers Propose ‘Swatting’ Law

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Reps. John Carmichael, a Wichita Democrat, Patty Markley, an Overland Park Republican, and John Whitmer, a Wichita Republican, proposed a bill that would create harsher penalties for swatting.

Rep. John Whitmer

Swatting is the act of calling emergency personnel to a scene under false pretenses, and it resulted in the death of a Wichita man, Andrew Finch on Dec. 29. Finch, 28, was shot and killed by police who believed he was holding hostages in his home in response to a hoax call to emergency services. Finch was unarmed.

“What we saw in Wichita was vile, despicable and cruel,” Whitmer said.

HB 2581 would make communicating false or misleading information to law enforcement that results in life threatening injuries or death a felony offense.

In the Finch case, police arrested Tyler Barriss, a 25-year-old Los Angeles man. He is awaiting trial on involuntary manslaughter charges.

“This bill is about preventing horrible incidents like these from taking place and holding individuals responsible for their actions,” Whitmer said. “If a false alarm or prank call result in injury or fatality of an innocent bystander, the caller must be held accountable.

The representatives introduced the bill into the House Judiciary committee on Jan. 30.

 

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