A 19-year-old Ohio resident, Casey Viner who was accused in Death of an innocent stranger due to a swatting prank was found guilty in the court proceeding and received a 15 months jail sentence.
Swatting is a prank where the prankers will make a hoax call to Police/SWAT unit in an attempt to surprise the unsuspecting victims by tricking the SWAT team into storming their homes.
Casey Viner and his friend Tyler Barriss (who was also involved with him in the prank) had a heated argument with their online rival Shane Gaskill in the multiplayer game, Call of Duty. To scare Gaskill, both Casey and Tyler made a call to SWAT unit and tricked them into thinking it was Shane Gaskill on-call.
They told the SWAT unit that “….he(fake Gaskill) had shot his father and was holding his family hostage” and before ending the call they gave an address of a house in Kansas which they believed belonged to Gaskill.
Although the address they give didn’t belong to Gaskill, rather it belonged to a man named Andrew Finch, a 28-year old father of two kids who had nothing to do with the online dispute.
The hoax call tricked the officers in taking immediate measures as they thought the hostage situation was real. Later, the armed officers stormed the house of what they believed belonged to Gaskill. Later, an officer opened fire on Finch when he “moved his hand towards waist”, which resulted in the death of Finch.
US Attorney, Stephen McAllister who was overseeing the case said while announcing Casey’s sentence that “…swatting is reckless, dangerous and, as this case proves, potentially tragic. Swatting is not a prank, and it is no way to resolve disputes among gamers.”
As for the officer who discharged fatal shots – he will not be prosecuted as he had not responded unreasonably given the context of the situation.
Earlier this year, 20-year-old Tyler Barriss, the main accused and Casey’s friend was sentenced to 20 years of prison for his crime.