A California man accused of making a hoax call in connection to an online quarrel between two “Call of Duty” gamers that led to the fatal police shooting of an unarmed man in Kansas has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Tyler Barriss, 25, made his first court appearance in Kansas via video link from jail on Friday following his extradition from Los Angeles. The 25-year-old was also charged with giving false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer. Bond was set at $500,000.
The hoax call was reportedly made after a dispute over a small wager in a “Call of Duty” online video game tournament, Dexerto reported.
An investigation is ongoing as to other people alleged to be involved in a game online, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said, adding that involves a forensic analysis of machines, phones and computers.
Bennett acknowledged the "sort of novelty" of the case, noting the public interest in it and questions about whether lawmakers may need to change laws when it comes to computer-related crimes.
"The law is catching up with technology," he said. "I guess I am stating what seems fairly obvious to me without making commentary about this case."
Prosecutors allege Barris was in Los Angeles when he called police on Dec. 28 with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at a home in Wichita, Kansas. In the audio of the 911 call, the person on the phone claimed his father had been shot in the head and that he was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint. The caller added that he poured gasoline inside the home and “might just set it on fire.”
The hoax call was a case of “swatting,” in which a person makes up a false report to get a SWAT team to descend on an address.
When police responded to the address in Wichita, an officer fatally shot Andrew Finch, 28, after he opened his door. Police have said he moved a hand toward his waistband and an officer, fearing he was reaching for a gun, fired a single shot and killed him. Finch was unarmed.
The victim’s mother, Lisa Finch, told reporters her son was not a gamer.
"What gives the cops the right to open fire?" she asked. "That cop murdered my son over a false report in the first place."
Finch leaves behind two children, ages 2 and 7.
Barriss has a history of making “swatting” calls, police said. He was arrested on Dec. 29 in Los Angeles.
His next court appearance was slated for later in the month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.