A technology that is easy to use is causing problems for police as people are calling in bogus emergencies from real phone numbers that are difficult to trace. The practice is called ‘swatting’ and its implications are dangerous. VPC
A 19-year-old gamer who planned a hoax 911 call that resulted in a Kansas man’s death was sentenced to 15 months in prison last week.
Casey Viner had pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a case of “swatting,” the practice of making false 911 calls to force police to respond with SWAT teams, after Wichita police fatally shot Andrew Finch in December 2017.
The ruling comes after a federal judge in March sentenced fellow defendant Tyler Barriss to 20 years in prison. Viner had recruited Barriss to “swat” another gamer after getting into an argument while playing “Call of Duty: WWII,” authorities said. The other gamer knowingly gave an old address, leading Barriss to falsely report a shooting and kidnapping at Finch’s residence.
Wichita police shot Finch, who was not involved in the dispute, when he opened his door to see what was happening. Finch later died at a hospital, and prosecutors decided not to press charges against the officer who shot him and thought Finch reached for a gun in his waistband.
His ‘swatting’ prank call caused death: Now he’ll serve 20 years in prison
After prison, Viner will be banned from playing video games for two years during his supervised release, U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren said. The North College Hill, Ohio, teen had also been charged with obstruction of justice and admitted trying to hide his involvement in the 2017 incident. A federal indictment alleged an investigation of his cellphone revealed Finch deleted messages, including one that said, “I was involved in someone’s death.”
In one courtroom statement, Viner said he “never intended anything to happen.” While handing out the sentence, Melgren said he could have predicted consequences for calling an armed police force to respond to a reported escalating situation of violence.
“We impose sentences not only for what people intend, but what happened,” Melgren said.
The third defendant in the case, Shane Gaskill, was charged as a co-conspirator after knowingly giving Barriss the former address and taunting him to “try something.” Gaskill has since struck a deal for deferred prosecution that could allow the charges against him to be dropped.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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