Tyler Barriss was the notorious swatter who was interviewed extensively on the first episode of the new Netflix series, “Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies and the Internet.” Barriss, who is now 29, is in prison today in the death of Austin Finch.
Barriss was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2019, charged with a string of swatting incidents, including the call that resulted in the death of Finch. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren sentenced Barriss following a plea deal.
Season one of the Netflix series was released in July.
Here’s what you need to know:
Barriss Faced 51 Counts Related to Swatting Incidents & Threats Across the Country
Barriss was charged with 51 counts in federal court related to his swatting calls and bomb threats. He pleaded guilty in the case, signing a plea deal that called for a sentence of at least 20 years. The recommended sentence, per sentencing guidelines, was 10 years, according to the Associated Press. The AP reported that prosecutors believe it was the longest sentence ever imposed for swatting.
Swatting was recognized as an emerging threat in 2008 by the FBI. Federal prosecutors said at the time of the sentencing they hoped the case would serve as a deterrent to prevent future deaths.
“We hope that this will send a strong message about swatting, which is a juvenile and senseless practice,” U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister told reporters after the sentence was imposed, according to the AP. “We’d like to put an end to it within the gaming community and in any other contact. Swatting, as I’ve said before, is not a prank.”
No Charges Were Filed Against Justin Rapp But He Was Placed on Administrative Duty in the Case
A Kansas judge ruled that Rapp would not face charges for firing the shot that killed Finch, saying that he acted reasonably based on the information he had at the time of the incident, according to KAKE. The local news outlet covered his court appearance in 2018.
“Since the Finch swatting incident Rapp has been taken off the streets and placed on administrative duty, even though the District Attorney ruled based on Kansas law, no charges would be filed against Rapp, who the DA says acted reasonably based on what the officer knew at the time of the shooting,” the news outlet reported.
Finch’s family filed a lawsuit, seeking $25 million in his death. The case is under appeal, according to the MacArthur Justice Center, which is working with Accident Injury Law Group, the law firm Bartlit Beck, and Kansas-based civil rights attorney Rick Bailey in the case.
Although the district court ruled Rapp was not entitled to qualified immunity, it also rejected the suit against the city of Wichita prior to the appeal.
“Andrew was unarmed. The police were at his house because of a 911 call that turned out to be a prank. Officer Justin Rapp shot and killed Andrew less than 10 seconds after he walked out of his front door. And Andrew’s killing was one of 23 police shootings in the city of Wichita over the preceding five years—none of which were meaningfully investigated, and none of which resulted in meaningful discipline for the officers involved,” the MacArthur Justice Center wrote.