On December 29, 2017 Andrew Finch was killed by police. He was an unarmed innocent man who made the mistake of answering his front door when Witchita police surrounded his house.

Much has been made of the culpability of Tyler Bariss, who made a false police report that lead to the event, and I agree with it. Bariss is essentially guilty of murder and has to be held to account.

However, the officer who killed Finch is also guilty.  He was too frightened, or too incompetent to do his job without killing an innocent man.   So far, the Witchita police have disclaimed any responsibility and are trying to blame everything on Bariss and Finch himself. The officer has not been named, probably because his feelings would be hurt by being in the newspaper.

According to the Washington Post in https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings-2017/

police killed around 1000 civilians in 2017.  68 of them were unarmed. Noone keeps any statistics on swatting incidents.

At the same time crime is at its lowest point in decades, the police are more militarized than ever.

Police face almost no accountability for violations of civil rights and under current law are almost impossible to sue for damages.

It seems fairly clear that changes are needed.

  • Swatting needs to be a serious crime in all 50 states
  • The “Reasonably scared cop” rule of Graham v Connor must be changed so that officers are held accountable
  • Qualified Immunity must be changed, so that Police, departments, and towns can be sued when people are harmed by their actions.

I don’t care if an individual policeman can’t be sued due to qualified immunity, they can’t afford to pay damages anyway.  Departments and towns however can, and it may be that repeated large settlements in court may be the only way to keep cities and towns from giving guns to the sort of officers who kill the people they are supposed to protect.

It also wouldn’t hurt for congress to actually do their job and write laws that correct bad judicial results like Graham and qualified immunity.


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