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In the 10 seconds before Andrew Finch was killed, here's what officers were thinking

Video shows various angles from body cams the night Andrew Finch was killed

The Wichita Police Department released videos during a press conference on April 12, 2018. District Attorney Marc Bennett said the Wichita police officer who fired the shot that killed Andrew Finch after a swatting call will not face charges.
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The Wichita Police Department released videos during a press conference on April 12, 2018. District Attorney Marc Bennett said the Wichita police officer who fired the shot that killed Andrew Finch after a swatting call will not face charges.

In their own words, the 10 officers and three deputies who surrounded Andrew Finch's home on Dec. 28 had different interpretations and reactions to Finch's movements the night he was killed.

Officers were sent to 1033 W. McCormick just after 6 p.m. because they received a call that there was a homicide and hostage situation inside. The person who made the report claimed to be the shooter and said he wasn’t going to put down his gun, according to dispatch records.

The report was fake — an instance of "swatting." No one was dead inside the home. When officers arrived, they didn’t immediately know the call wasn't real, authorities have said. They also didn’t know the caller was still talking to a 911 dispatcher 16 minutes after Finch was gunned down.

The 28-year-old father of two was not armed.

In a 42-page report of the investigation released by District Attorney Marc Bennett, the responding officers tell what they saw and thought in the 10 seconds from when Finch opened his front door to when an officer fatally shot him. It also answers the question of why officers who were closer to Finch didn’t fire their weapons.

The shooter, who is not named in the report, will not be charged with Finch’s death, Bennett announced Thursday.

Wichita police said Friday that the officer remains on administrative duty.

10 seconds

The officer who shot Finch — referred to as “officer #1” in the report — says that when he got to 1033 W. McCormick, he was preparing for a hostage situation, so he grabbed his rifle.

As he took position across the street, his attention was directed to the silhouette of a person that was visible on the second floor of the Finch home. Another officer said it looked like the person was moving up and down, possibly giving CPR to the person they thought had been shot, the report says.

The officer said that when Finch opened his door, the officer was looking at him through the scope on his rifle.

Several officers standing around the house began yelling commands at Finch. He “throws his hands up very quickly,” at ear level, the officer said.

“And almost as soon as he puts his hands up, he brings them back down,” he said, explaining he saw Finch reach back with his right hand to “the side of his sweatshirt or jacket or whatever it is that he’s wearing, actually lifts the side.”

He says Finch’s body language, and a dip of his shoulder, made him think Finch was reaching for a gun.

“His hand starts to come up and that when I’m like okay he’s, he’s ‘gonna fire at officers,” the officer said. “I believe that I see a, a gun in his hand and as the, that’s being raised at the officers and at that point that’s when I decide to protect those officers and their lives and safety. I fire one round at this individual.”

He was the only officer who fired his weapon. Other officers interpreted Finch’s movements differently. Some said they didn’t shoot because of their position. Others said they didn’t shoot because they didn’t feel threatened and didn't see a gun.

None of the officers involved are named in the report.

This is what they said.

Officer #2 describes having a full view of Finch and describes him as being “startled by our presence” before making a “sudden movement” or jerking movement after officers started shouting commands. Officer #2, according to video, is standing next to the officer who shot Finch.

He said he “did not fire because he did not see a firearm in Mr. Finch’s hands,” the report says. When Finch reached back, he thought it was an attempt to retreat back inside the house.

The Wichita Police Department released videos during a press conference on April 12, 2018. District Attorney Marc Bennett said the Wichita police officer who fired the shot that killed Andrew Finch after a swatting call will not face charges.

Officer #3 was standing east of the house, on the same side of the street as Finch.

Other officers had taken cover on the opposite side of the house.

When Finch stepped outside, Officer #3 said, “at this point I mean I believe we’re contacting a suspect who had just admitted to a shooting. I believe shooting his dad and holding his family at gunpoint."

The officer saw Finch raise his hands and then drop them back down, making him think, “if he has a gun, he’s going for his gun because of the movements that he’s making with his hands."

He didn’t fire his weapon because other officers and residents at a nearby gas station were in his line of fire, he said.

His body camera was not turned on at the time of the shooting.

The Wichita Police Department released videos during a press conference on April 12, 2018. District Attorney Marc Bennett said the Wichita police officer who fired the shot that killed Andrew Finch after a swatting call will not face charges.

Officer #4 was on the northwest corner of the neighboring house on the same side of Finch’s porch.

He said Finch’s body language was “like he was just not interested in dealing with the police on this day or this night.”

He said Finch reached down with both hands, “and actually pulled up his pants and I can remember thinking, ‘That’s not a good idea … don’t be lifting, tugging at your waistband.’”

He said given the circumstances of the call, and Finch’s body language, he thought he was the person who reportedly shot his dad.

Officer #4 then thought Finch was pulling out a gun, but said he didn’t shoot because he didn’t see a weapon in Finch’s hand.

His body camera was not turned on until after the shooting.

The Wichita Police Department released videos during a press conference on April 12, 2018. District Attorney Marc Bennett said the Wichita police officer who fired the shot that killed Andrew Finch after a swatting call will not face charges.

Officer #5 was standing west of the house. He’s the only officer in the report quoted to say he didn’t know who Finch was.

“I couldn’t tell you if that was the suspect of the alleged shooting or if it was someone coming out asking for help,” he said.

When asked if he saw Finch make any movements, he said, “not that I can see no.”

The Wichita Police Department released videos during a press conference on April 12, 2018. District Attorney Marc Bennett said the Wichita police officer who fired the shot that killed Andrew Finch after a swatting call will not face charges.

Officer #6 was standing next to Officer #5. He can be heard yelling, “hands, hands, hands” at Finch before a shot is fired.

He didn’t shoot because of crossfire fears with officers across the street, he said.

The Wichita Police Department released videos during a press conference on April 12, 2018. District Attorney Marc Bennett said the Wichita police officer who fired the shot that killed Andrew Finch after a swatting call will not face charges.

Officer #7 was across the street, near the officer who shot Finch. He said he couldn’t see where Finch’s hands went, but saw them go down.

The Wichita Police Department released videos during a press conference on April 12, 2018. District Attorney Marc Bennett said the Wichita police officer who fired the shot that killed Andrew Finch after a swatting call will not face charges.

Officers #8 and #9 didn't have a clear view of Finch, they said.

The Wichita Police Department released videos during a press conference on April 12, 2018. District Attorney Marc Bennett said the Wichita police officer who fired the shot that killed Andrew Finch after a swatting call will not face charges.

Officer #10 said he thought Finch “was moving back towards the threshold of the door.”

Deputy #1 and Deputy #2 with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said they thought Finch was reaching for a door and that he seemed confused by the police presence.

Deputy #3 said he “was not fearful of being shot because he had been close enough to see the right arm of Mr. Finch and had not seen a gun,” the report says.

The bullet that killed Finch hit a storm door and bullet fragments ricocheted into Finch.

Nichole Manna, 316-269-6752, @NicholeManna
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