Sources say Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett never spoke to Officer Justin Rapp before he decided the shooting of Andrew Finch was justified
Rapp fired one shot that killed Finch following a swatting call made by Tyler Barriss
In April Bennett made a rushed and unexpected decision that the shooting was justified
The Finch family was shocked to learn that Bennett never spoke to Rapp before making his decision
Today is the 1-year anniversary of 34-year-old Wichita Police Officer Justin Rapp fatally shooting 28-year-old Andrew Finch following a swatting call made by 26-year-old Tyler Barriss.
Despite Rapp pulling the trigger, Barriss caught the majority of the blame. The Finch swatting was not Barriss’ first time committing similar crimes. In total, Barriss plead guilty to 51 federal charges. Meanwhile, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett declared the shooting as justified, despite never even speaking to Rapp.
On December 28, 2017, a call was made claiming a man at 1033 W Mccormick Street had killed his father and was holding the rest of his family hostage. The caller also claimed the house had been doused in gasoline.
As the Wichita Police Department surrounded the house believing a life or death situation was occurring inside the house, Finch was inside unaware of what was unfolding just outside his front door. After hearing a noise outside of the house, Finch opened the front door and was fatally shot one time by Rapp.
As Finch opened the door, Rapp was positioned 44-yards away across the street from the houses front door. Since the shooting, Rapp has gone back and forth on seeing a gun in Finch’s hand. According to a report released by Bennett, in December 2017, Rapp claimed he believed he saw a gun in Finch’s hand.
Officer #1 heard other officers east of 1033 West McCormick yelling the command, “show us your hands.” In response, Mr. Finch turned his head to the right, and “throws his hands up very quickly” to about ear-level—“and almost as soon as he puts his hands up, he brings them back down.” The officer then sees Mr. Finch reach back with his right hand and lift “the side of his sweatshirt or jacket or whatever it is that he’s wearing, actually lifts the side.” Officer #1 said the garment then “comes back down.” Officer #1 believed this was a “gun drawing motion.” Mr. Finch then “dips his shoulder before he comes back up and puts his right hand down at his side.” The officers to the east “are still yelling at him.” Officer #1 then sees Mr. Finch look back at the officers to the east and “take a drop step back and to his right as he starts to bring his hand up and um I at that point I believe he has a firearm in his hand.”
In his statement from December, Rapp stated twice that he saw a gun in Finch’s hand.
The officer again stated Mr. Finch was “squaring his body” toward the officers to the east, “at the same time that his hand starts to come up and that when I’m like okay he’s, he’s ‘gonna fire at officers. 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.”
However, in May when Rapp was testifying in Barriss’ trial, he changed his story. Rapp stated that he saw Finch making a “gun-drawing motion.” He claimed in the seven seconds Finch was given before he was fatally shot, he made the motion with his right hand.
He very briefly put his hands up to approximately ear level and just as quickly put them back down to his waistband level. He made a gun drawing motion with his right hand in the area of his right hip.
When defense attorney Bradley Sylvester asked Rapp during his testimony if he saw a gun in Finch’s hand, he responded “no”.
Despite the discrepancies in Rapp’s statements, in April Bennett made the rushed and unexpected decision to declare the shooting justified. Bennett’s office kept it very quiet that a decision had been made. Local media did not even know what the last minute press conference was about. Now one year later, a source close to the case has confirmed to TDH that Bennett never interviewed Rapp before deciding the shooting was justified. TDH reached out to Bennett’s office for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of this article being published.
The Finch family found the news extremely disturbing. For a family that already feels as if the City of Wichita gave no justice in the murder of their loved one, to hear Bennett did not even demonstrate due diligence when justifying the shooting was a devastating blow to find out a year later.
Over the year since the shooting, activists have put pressure on city officials at multiple city council meetings, made t-shirts calling for the arrest of Rapp and even placed three billboards around the city when the NCAA tournament was in town. Activists were met with strong opposition from officials as the city went to great lengths to hide Rapp’s identity. TDH first named Rapp as the shooter in January, but city officials did not confirm him as the shooter until after he was forced to testify in Barriss’ trial. To say Rapp received protection from city officials after shooting an unarmed man would be a massive understatement.