Wichita Police Officer Justin Rapp gave a conflicting testimony in court on Tuesday during Tyler Barriss’ preliminary hearing
Rapp is confirmed as the officer responsible for shooting and killing Andrew Finch on December 28, 2017
In December Rapp claimed he saw a gun in Finch’s hand before making the fatal shot
On Tuesday Rapp claimed he did not see a gun in Finch’s hand before taking the shot
In April District Attorney Marc Bennett decided he would not bring charges against Rapp for the shooting
After months of silence from the Wichita Police Department and Wichita city officials, Officer Justin Rapp has been confirmed as the officer responsible for murdering Andrew Finch on December 28, 2017, following a “swatting” call from 25-year-old Los Angeles resident Tyler Barriss.
Despite The Daily Haze naming Rapp as the officer responsible for the shooting in January, WPD and city officials refused to confirm him as the shooter claiming it would be a breach of contract with the Fraternal Order of Police.
On Tuesday, Rapp testified in court during Barriss’ preliminary hearing for his role in the tragic police shooting. During his testimony, Rapp claimed that Finch made a “gun-drawing motion” before he fired the fatal shot.
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.
Rapp stated that he fired after Finch raised his right arm claiming he believed he was going to shoot at officers to the east. When defense attorney Bradley Sylvester asked Rapp if he saw anything in Finch’s hand, Rapp responded “no.”
However, in December, Rapp stated that he did see a gun in Finch’s hand. In a 42-page report released by Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett, Rapp goes into detail claiming he believed he saw a gun in Finch’s hand. He goes on to say he believed Finch was preparing to open fire on officers.
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.”
Rapp states not once, but twice that he claimed to see a firearm 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.”
Following Tuesday’s testimony from Rapp, the Finch family is more concerned over the death of their loved one. Now that Rapp has openly stated he did not see a gun in Finch’s hand, what possible justification could he have for his decision to take Finch’s life?
In April, Bennett came to the conclusion that Rapp would not face any charges due to the “Stand Your Ground” law in Kansas. A significant backbone in Bennett’s decision was that Rapp claimed to have seen a gun in Finch’s hand.
Despite the decision from Bennett’s office, activists and family advocates for the Finch family in Wichita have made the decision to pursue a Grand Jury indictment against Rapp with an outside DA. Bennett has yet to charge a Wichita Police officer with a wrongful shooting since his time in office.
Following a two hour trial, Judge Bruce Brown made the decision that there was enough evidence to bound Barriss to District Court. Barriss’ arraignment is now scheduled for June.