Fatal Swatting Case Leads to Involuntary Manslaughter Charge

Tyler Barriss is being held in lieu of half a million dollars bond

Tyler Barriss, left, flanked by public defender, Mearl Lottman, appears for an extradition hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles man suspected of making a hoax emergency call that led to the fatal police shooting of a Kansas man told a judge Wednesday he would not fight efforts to send him to Wichita to face charges Irfan Khan/AP

The man accused of making a fake emergency call to police that led to the shooting death of a Kansas man by a Wichita SWAT unit was charge Friday with involuntary manslaughter, according to the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office.

Tyler Raj Barriss, 25, was also charged with giving false alarm and interference with law-enforcement officers. Barriss arrived at the Sedgwick County Jail in Kansas on Thursday night after being extradited from California. His bond is set at $500,000. Under Kansas state law, involuntary manslaughter is a killing that was unintentional which resulted from recklessness or during another unlawful act. The maximum sentence for the felony ranges from 31 to 136 months depending on a number of factors including any prior criminal record.

Barriss appeared in court Friday afternoon where he was officially read his charges. That hearing was a relatively perfunctory matter where Barriss was asked a series of routine questions and the process for assigning him a lawyer and the next court date was set. Barriss will have to enter a plea at arraignment which is likely to take place later in January.

Barriss also faces charges in connection with another Swatting incident that occurred in Canada, according to The Globe and Mail. Calgary police say they charged Barriss of Los Angeles with mischief and fraud charges following a "swatting" incident on December 22nd. 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.

Barriss is now being held in Kansas in connection to the December 28th incident in Wichita, Kansas. Police believe he made a fake phone call to authorities there 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 lead police to the home of 28-year-old Andrew Finch. Finch was shot and killed by police when he came to the door.

Deputy Wichita Police Chief Troy Livingston says that police arrived at the home of Finch 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. 

Sedgwick County district attorney Marc Bennett tells Glixel that the charges against Barriss were determined by Kansas state law which clearly delineates between felony murder and involuntary murder. Because the murder did not occur in the commission of a list of specific felonies, Barriss couldn't be charged with murder. Because the two other charges are felonies, the murder falls under the felony manslaughter rule, which leads to the involuntary manslaughter charge.

Bennett says his office is also continuing to investigate the officer who fired the shot that killed Finch. He says the office is still awaiting things like the autopsy, toxicology report and ballistics. "I like to take a no-stone-unturned approach," he says. Once the case has been decided either the officer will be charged or Bennett will hold a press conference to detail why the officer isn't being charged and release the findings of the investigation. 

Update: This story has been updated with comments from Bennett.