Lawsuit Over Fatal 2017 Call of Duty Swatting “Prank” Finally Settles for $5 Million

No amount of money can replace what was taken.

After five years, a family devastated by a terrible swatting “prank” has settled with the city of Wichita for $5 million dollars. This has come after extensive legal proceedings that saw all defendants put in jail on a variety of charges.

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Lawsuit Over Fatal 2017 Call of Duty Swatting “Prank” Finally Settles for $5 Million

Call of Duty games can frequently get heated in voice comms, even between teammates. This is what happened in late 2017 when an incident broke out between Casey S. Viner, then 18, and Shane Gaskill, then 19. The incident involved Gaskill killing Viner through friendly fire.

Things escalated from “trash talk” when Viner threatened to have Gaskill swatted. Gaskill urged Viner to do so and provided Viner with an address where he’d previously lived at.

Viner provided this address to Tyler Barriss, known in the community as “SWAuTistic.” Barriss then called the Wichita Police department to tell them he was at the address Viner provided. A police affidavit went on to state that Barriss claimed he’d killed his own father and was holding the rest of the family at gunpoint, and that the house had already been drenched in gasoline.

Wichita police officers, who were not SWAT team members and were not trained for hostage rescues, responded to the call and arrived at the address provided by Viner. While Viner no longer lived there, Andrew Finch, father of two, did.

Police officers surrounded the residence at 6:23 p.m. Andrew Finch stepped outside, confused by the situation, and was told to lift his hands. He did so but was shot within 10 seconds after a movement he made startled Officer Justin Rapp.

At that point, Bariss was still on the line with dispatch but discontinued the call at 6:46 p.m. Finch was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead at 7:03 p.m.

The Aftermath and the Legal Proceedings

Tyler Barriss

Because the setup for the swatting incident took place over Twitter, Tyler Barriss (“SWAuTistic”) was quickly identified and arrested the next day. He was charged with making a false bomb threat to KABC-TV in 2015 and for the involuntary manslaughter of Andrew Finch, false information and hoaxes, cyberstalking resulting in death, making threats of death or damage to property by fire, interstate threats, conspiracy to make false reports, and wire fraud.

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On November 13, 2018, Barriss pleaded guilty to 51 federal charges. He paid $10,100 in fines and restitution to the Finch family and $5,000 in restitution to the Kansas Crime Victims Compensation Board, which had to pay the same costs to the Finch family for funeral costs. He was sentenced to spend 20 years in federal prison, with five years of supervised release to run once those 20 years are over.

Casey Viner

Casey S. Viner, who prompted Barriss to make the swat call, was charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to make false/hoax reports, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. On April 2019, Viner pleaded guilty to his charges and was sentenced to a 15-month prison sentence and two years of probation, during which time he’d be banned from playing video games. Viner was released on November 14, 2020.

Shane Gaskill

Gaskill, who provided the false address, was charged with obstruction of justice, wire fraud, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Gaskill was re-indicted in July on additional charges after he sent two more messages to Barriss. One said: “Do you wanna try again?” In the other message, Gaskill gave Barriss an IP address Gaskill claimed Barriss could use to launch another swatting assault on him. The IP address did not belong to Gaskill.

However, Gaskill was able to strike a deal for deferred prosecution that would have potentially allowed charges against him to be dropped. But in September 2021, Gaskill violated the terms of his diversion, and the trial resumed. The motion to resume trial did not specify which terms were violated.

The case against Gaskill resumed, and Gaskill pled guilty to one count of wire fraud in May 2022 and was sentenced to 18 months of prison in September 2022. He is expected to be released in March 2024.

Officer who fatally shot Andrew Finch, Justin Rapp

In the immediate aftermath of Andrew Finch’s death, Officer Justin Rapp received no disciplinary action. Justin Rapp claims he fired on Finch because he thought – incorrectly – Finch was holding a firearm. Rapp did not provide a verbal warning to Finch before shooting.

On July 2022, a civil suit was brought against Officer Justin Rapp, who sought summary judgment. The U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with a lower Kansas federal court that the Finch family had standing and could pursue the case against the officer but not the city of Wichita.

According to the appellate panel, summary judgment based on qualified immunity was not appropriate in this case, as a reasonable jury could conclude that Finch was unarmed and unthreatening, thus making Rapp’s actions in violation of clearly established laws.

“As a result,” the appellate judges stated, “qualified immunity ‘protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.’”

This civil suit reached a settlement on March 21, 2023, when the city council voted for the $5 million dollar settlement 6-1. The city is responsible for the cost of the settlement, not Justin Rapp, who was promoted last year to detective.

The city will pay $2 million from its self-insurance fund, and $1.5 million from the city council’s reserve fund, with AIG paying the remainder of the settlement. This settlement will go to the Finch family estate, his children, and the attorney fees that have accumulated over the course of half a decade in pursuit of justice.

Unfortunately, the toll this case took on Finch and his family can never be undone. Finch’s niece, who witnessed the slaying of her uncle, took her life one year later at the age of 18, and her boyfriend followed one year after that.

Swatting continues to be a blight in the gaming community that causes unspeakable harm that no amount of money will ever be able to heal. But at least the long and exhausting court case is finally over for the Finch family.

If you need a break from the dark side of gaming, check out this light-hearted game meant to give players a free alternative to TurboTax: Let a Waifu File Your Taxes in This Anime Dating Sim.


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Daphne Fama
A Staff Writer at Prima Games since 2022, Daphne Fama spends an inordinate amount playing games of all stripes but has a soft spot for horror, FPS, and RPGs. When she’s not gaming, she’s an author and member of the Horror Writers Association with a debut novel coming out in 2025. In a previous life, she was an attorney but found she preferred fiction to contracts and forms