Stiffer penalties for 'swatting' calls under Kansas bill

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Andrew Finch Andrew Finch

Three Kansas lawmakers have introduced a bill that would allow for tougher penalties for making hoax emergency calls. 

House Bill 2581 would make future "swatting" calls that result in death punishable by 10 to 40 years in prison, Rep. John Carmichael said. Tyler Barriss, 25, is accused of making a prank call that led to the fatal police shooting of Andrew Finch at his Wichita home last month.

“It is our hope that by introducing bi-partisan legislation to strengthen both the law and penalties for 'swatting' and 'spoofing' calls for emergency assistance, we can achieve quick passage of this necessary legislation,” said Rep. Carmichael.

Prosecutors allege Barriss was in Los Angeles when he called police with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at a home. Police responded to the address, where an officer fatally shot Finch, 28, after Finch opened his door.

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"We have felt the impact of swatting right here at home with the recent tragedy of 28-year-old Andrew Finch," Rep. John Whitmer said. "This bill is about preventing horrible incidents like these from taking place, and holding individuals responsible for their actions. If a false alarm or prank call result in the serious injury or fatality of an innocent bystander, the caller must be held accountable. What we saw in Wichita was vile, despicable, and cruel. We cannot let this continue."

The bill also provides for lesser penalties if the false call results in great bodily injury or an unnecessary emergency response. It was jointly introduced by Reps. Carmichael and Whitmer of Wichita and Patty Markley of Overland Park.

Read the bill here

Barriss is charged with involuntary manslaughter, giving false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer. He has a history of making such hoax calls.

The officer who shot and killed Finch remains on administrative leave.

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