A recent “prank call” to Wichita’s 911 resulted in the death of an unarmed man whose only crime was opening the door to his home and allowing his hands to go toward his waist as a team of police officers trained their weapons on him.
On Dec. 28, officers went to a Wichita home preparing for a hostage situation. Deputy Wichita Police Chief Troy Livingston said the department received a call that someone had an argument with their mother, that the father had been shot in the head and the shooter was holding his mother, brother and sister hostage.
“That was the information we were working off of,” he said. In the tense moments that followed, Andrew Finch, 28, was shot by police and later died at a local hospital.
The incident has raised many questions about who is responsible for this young man’s death, about how officers are trained and even about loopholes in the Kansas Open Records Act, since officials are dragging their feet on releasing more video to the public so it can see for itself if the shooting was reasonable.
It will be some time before these issues are resolved. (People have been debating for at least a decade whether officers are trained to shoot too quickly.)
Barton County lives were also put at risk last week by a prank caller. It seems unlikely that anyone would be hurt just because someone called in a bomb threat to the Courthouse and to the Court Services Building. “All” that happened was a lot of people were inconvenienced — while they faced the remote possibility of being seriously injured, maimed or killed. The officers that stayed behind to secure and search the buildings were at greatest risk, and their family members know this was no laughing matter.
The chances were slim that circumstances could have aligned in such a way that an innocent bystander was hurt or killed by the people who responded to the threat with the good intentions of protecting lives. But the odds that a man could die the way Andrew Finch died were also slim.
We congratulate our local law enforcement for handling our bomb threat well. Let’s hope the prank caller is found and brought to justice.
As for the infinitely more serious event in Wichita, we send our wishes of hope and comfort in the midst of pain. This should never have happened.