Just a few years ago, the Internet was filled with kids shoving spoonfuls of cinnamon into their mouths. Now, some have switched cinnamon out for Tide pods. Many outlandish trends are emerging in this digital age, and a truly dangerous one has erupted—swatting.
So, what is swatting?
It’s when someone makes a prank call to emergency services to attract armed police officers (or a swat team) to swarm a certain address—sometimes given at random, sometimes of a specific person the caller wants to tease or scare. The caller usually disguises his name and number through some sort of software.
Not only is it a waste of time and money, but it can be dangerous. And the police won’t look kindly on you if they catch you. Not at all. They tend to go in with guns blazing, and we all know how that ends up for people…
The Story of Andrew Finch
While a few swatting cases across America have popped up in the headlines, one of the most tragic was that of Kansas resident Andrew Finch. According to the Verge, a feud between two Call of Duty players resulted in this swatting call.
One player gave “his” address to the other player, who had a history of calling in fake threats. This player then gave the address to the police in a hoax emergency phone call. Unfortunately, the “fake” address was home to a real, unsuspecting man—Andrew Finch. Police swarmed Finch’s house. When he answered the door, completely confused, one policer officer allegedly fired a shot. This resulted in Fitch’s death later in a hospital.
According to Time, an anti-swatting act had been brought before Congress; however, nothing came of it. Last year, however, Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark introduced new legislation that would ban Internet crimes, like swatting and doxing (leaking private information online). The bill is currently pending in the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. If it passes, you can expect much harsher punishments for swatting.
In Finch’s case, one other thing sticks out: the shooting.
Don’t you think it’s a little odd for officers to shoot someone who just answers a door? We wish we could say police misconduct like this was rare, but look at the news lately. Being unarmed isn’t really helping anyone avoid being shot. We hope the Finch family demands and gets the justice they deserve.
If you were the victim of Orange County police misconduct, we at the Law Office of Michael L. Gusti have experience in exactly these kinds of cases, and we aggressively fight injustice. Call us toll-free at (888) 478-8999 to discuss your case.