Four billboards in Wichita, Kansas.
“Andy Finch is dead. If you believe in justice, it’s time to file charges.”
The billboards refer to the fatal shooting of Finch, 28, who was killed by a Wichita police officer on Dec. 28 after being victim to a “swatting” call, allegedly placed by a man in Los Angeles.
Wichita police haven’t released the name of the officer who fired the shot, and have only said that he’s a 7 ½ year veteran of the department.
Over the past two months, community activists have made it clear that they want the officer’s name to be made public. Now, the billboards have been put up throughout the city, in the style of the Oscar-nominated movie “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri.”
In the movie, the mother of a girl who was raped and killed is tired of her local police department dragging its feet in the investigation. So she purchases three billboards.
“Raped while dying. And still no arrests? How come, Chief Willoughby?” they say.
Like the billboards in the movie, the ones in Wichita were designed in bold black type over a solid red background.
While Kansas law and written city policy don’t prevent the Wichita Police Department from releasing the officer’s name, the city has no intention of doing so, following an unwritten rule that the names of officers involved in shootings are not released unless the officer is charged with a crime.
The officer hasn’t been charged.
District Attorney Marc Bennett said he is reviewing the case. The investigation has included witness interviews, photos, transcripts, medical reports as well as reviews of 911 calls, radio dispatch, body-camera footage and other recorded evidence.
"Any case involving the discharge of a firearm leading to death (whether fired by a citizen or an officer) will involve dozens of officers, detectives and crime scene investigators as well as multiple forensic analysts and experts," Bennett said Friday. "This all leads to hundreds of hours of investigation. I am reviewing it all. When the review is complete my decision will be made public."
Tyler Barriss, 25, was arrested in Los Angeles less than 24 hours after the shooting. An arrest affidavit says he called Wichita police to report a false homicide and hostage situation at 1033 W. McCormick, where Finch was inside with his family. Barriss is now in the Sedgwick County Jail charged with involuntary manslaughter.
It wasn’t immediately clear Friday morning who paid for the billboards, or when they began flashing across their new digital homes. Calls to the advertising companies weren’t immediately returned.
According to their websites, one of the billboards — near Maple and West — range in price from $515 to $1,750, depending on the frequency of the ad being shown.
In the months following the shooting, community members have spoken at City Council meetings, demanding charges against the officer. Finch’s family has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city in hopes of holding the city accountable, and making sure something like this doesn’t happen again, they have said.