Crime & Courts

Wichita chief defends officers he removed from internal investigations as ‘good employees’

Officer describes fatal shot in the ‘swatting’ case

Wichita police Officer Justin Rapp testifies Tuesday about firing the fatal shot. Rapp was testifying in the preliminary hearing for Tyler Barriss, who is charged in the death of Andrew Finch after he made a "swatting" call.
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Wichita police Officer Justin Rapp testifies Tuesday about firing the fatal shot. Rapp was testifying in the preliminary hearing for Tyler Barriss, who is charged in the death of Andrew Finch after he made a "swatting" call.

Wichita’s police chief defended the high-ranking officers and detectives he removed from internal investigations of police shootings, calling them “good officers and good employees” in a written statement Friday afternoon.

Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said he moved them from the investigations to “foster better community relations and to add transparency.”

The move wasn’t known until it was reported by the Associated Press on Thursday.

The report featured information from Ramsay’s sworn testimony in a civil case brought against the city by the family of Andrew Finch, an unarmed Wichita man killed by police on his front porch after a dispute between online gamers led to a hoax “swatting” call at his house in December 2017.

Finch’s family says the city’s police department policies and practices were the driving force behind his death. One of the lawsuit’s central claims is that the department conducts faulty investigations of its own officers after they kill someone.

Ramsay was not available for comment or questions at the Friday daily police briefing but sent out a written statement later in the day.

“Taking a snippet from a deposition that lasted hours and drawing conclusions does not give full context and unnecessarily hurts the good name of our investigators,” he wrote.

Excerpts of Ramsay’s May 24 deposition were included in a court filing this week. In his testimony, he said he was so concerned about the fairness of internal department probes of police shootings that he removed the officers who had been overseeing them and the detectives who had been conducting them.

One of his concerns centered around an internal investigation of the 2015 fatal police shooting of 23-year-old John Paul Quintero, before Ramsay was hired.

Ramsay said in his deposition that he moved a captain, lieutenant and some detectives in 2016 and 2017 because of concerns about a “wide range of issues.” Pressed about what those issues were, Ramsay said they included his “philosophy of use of force, how we treat staff, how we handle these cases,” AP reported Thursday.

“Please remember the deposition referenced is only an excerpt of a larger deposition,” Ramsay wrote Friday. “The department members involved are good officers and good employees.

“They committed no legal or WPD internal violations,” he continued. “The employees moved to different positions based on their strengths and where they could best serve the department.”

Read Chief Gordon Ramsay’s full statement below:

As Wichita Police Chief I am and always have been confident in the men and women of the Wichita Police Department (WPD).

Since arriving in Wichita in January 2016, I have been committed to moving the WPD organization in the direction to best serve Wichita. In doing this, I continually make personnel changes based on rank, experience, union contracts and strengths of each individual employee. This is common practice among police departments across the nation.

A recent Associated Press article speaks about removing high-ranking officers and detectives regarding probes of police shootings. Please remember the deposition referenced is only an excerpt of a larger deposition. The department members involved are good officers and good employees, striving to reach the goals of the WPD. They committed no legal or WPD internal violations. The employees moved to different positions based on their strengths and where they could best serve the department. The change was made to foster better community relations and to add transparency. Taking a snippet from a deposition that lasted hours and drawing conclusions does not give full context and unnecessarily hurts the good name of our investigators.

I remain committed to the safety of Wichita and back the WPD staff in their abilities to provide public safety services to this city. The WPD leadership team and members will continue to follow best practices and industry standards as identified in our strategic agenda.

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