Swatting victim's mother continues to push for change in Wichita amid lawsuit

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Andrew Finch Andrew Finch
Scene of Andrew Finch's shooting death - 1033 West McCormick Scene of Andrew Finch's shooting death - 1033 West McCormick

"There is not a single day that goes by I don't think of my son and granddaughter," Lisa Finch told the Wichita City Council Tuesday morning.  "All the while screaming inside that they didn't have to die." 

Her son killed in a deadly swatting incident, Finch again went to city leaders to demand change.

"Every second of every single day and it's not ever going to stop," she said. "My son's shooting was unjustified."

In December 2017, a Wichita police officer shot and killed Andrew Finch on his own front porch.  Police were responding to a fake 911 call.  Someone was reporting a homicide and hostage situation at the home.  Investigators say Officer Justin Rapp thought Finch was reaching for a gun when he fired his weapon.  But Finch was unarmed.

A year later, Lisa Finch's granddaughter and her boyfriend killed themselves, something Finch blames on Andrew's loss.

She read a five minute statement to the council Tuesday in her third appearance before the council, pouring out just a fraction of the pain she says the Finch family has struggled with over the last two years.

"There is a void that is agonizing, intense, empty, so black and there is absolutely nothing that can fill this void," she said.  "I ask you to put yourself in my place.  What if this had happened to you?  What do you think the effect would be on your family?"

She's been pushing the city to improve police training, develop new policies for the use of deadly force, and improve communications between dispatchers and officers in the field.

"My main goal is to get policies changed.  For people, especially for public officials, to do what they are paid to do," she told reporters later.

Since Andrew Finch's death, Wichita Police have instituted a new 'swatting alert' system.  But the Finch family questions its effectiveness.

But that's not the only change she's trying to make in her son's name.  Finch says she's also working with another advocate to set up a foundation to help other families who lose loved ones to police force.

"I want to be able to have the foundation be able to send somebody to the family's house and do cooking, do cleaning, and everything.  So they can try to process what has happened to them.  But it will never make sense.  Never," she finished.

The council did not respond to Finch's comments.  She is in the middle of suing the city for more than $25 million for her son's death.  As part of that lawsuit the Finch family cites a lack of proper discipline of Justin Rapp.  Court papers say Rapp had not been disciplined for multiple overuse of force incidents.

"Rapp was referred to EIS every year from 2014 to 2017 for engaging in a high number of use-of-force incidents (at least 6 incidents in 6 months), but he still remained certified to use the sniper rifle that he deployed on Finch," the filing says.

EIS is the Wichita Police Department's Early Intervention System, according to the court paperwork.

Officer Rapp also filed a lawsuit against the city earlier this month claiming loss of pay during the investigation after the shooting.

The California man who made that swatting call, Tyler Barriss, is now serving a 20 year sentence in federal prison.

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