Patterico's Pontifications


New Interview with Defendant in Deadly SWATting Case Is Incredibly Damning

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:30 pm

If nothing else, we now know they got the right guy. A TV reporter has scored a televised interview with Tyler Burriss, the man who placed the hoax SWATting call that resulted in the death of Andrew Finch in Wichita. Burriss admits having done SWATtings in the past and being paid for them, but baaaarely stops short of admitting that he’s the guy who did this one (and that he got paid for it). No matter. It’s him. If you compare Burriss’s voice to the voice of the SWATter from the audio of the SWATting call (which you can hear in this post of mine), you can hear it’s the same person.

The reporter asked Burriss if he has anything to pass along to Finch’s family or the world in general, and Burriss says: “Of course, I feel a little of remorse for what happened. I never intended for, you know, anyone to get shot and killed.” The reporter asks him what his reason was in this case, and Burriss replies: “People were sending money to have this done.” But when the reporter specifically asks him if he received money for this particular SWATting, or if he was the SWATter in Finch’s case, Burriss says he doesn’t want to answer.

Burriss says that he and his grandmother were SWATting victims before, and that that had something to do with his decision to start doing it himself. Funny: I’ve been a SWATting victim, and my reaction to it was not to do it to other people. My reaction was to take whatever steps I could to get the word out that this is a dangerous activity, so that police departments and 911 operators would be aware of the phenomenon and get better training, so that potential victims would know what to do, so that legislators would take the problem more seriously and pass tougher laws, and especially so that law enforcement would take the issue more seriously and devote more resources to solving these cases. But for Burriss, the reaction was: “Hey, I think I’ll do this to other people!” Although I think he is seeking sympathy, this does not cause me to feel sorry for him.

At 6:40 in the interview, Burriss tries to make the case that he never really thought of SWATting as that serious before. But in his answer, he lets slip that he was aware of the danger to human life in his actions:

I just think that, well because this is the first time that that’s happened, so, obviously, you know, it’s, it’s, I look at it a lot differently. People have said before, you know, people could die, somebody could get shot and killed, why do you do that? You know, I guess it could have happened to me, being a victim, it could have happened to my grandmother. So all that stuff goes through my head, of course.

In California, a defendant is guilty of murder if they intentionally do an act that is dangerous to human life, knowing that the act is dangerous to human life, but acting with conscious disregard for human life, if someone dies as a result. I believe Burriss is guilty of murder under California law. I don’t know the law of murder in Kansas, but this is a pretty standard instruction. It’s not impossible that Burriss has talked himself into a murder charge here, by admitting that the possibility that “somebody could get shot and killed” is something that “goes through my head” when he makes these calls.

I don’t know who Burriss’s lawyer is, but if they authorized this interview, they should lose their bar card. It’s incredibly damning and certain to be played at his trial, if a trial occurs.

The station does not provide a way to embed their video, so click the image to access it.

If you’re new to this story, you can read my post about this deadly SWATting here, as well as my own account of having been a SWATting victim in the past.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

25 Responses to “New Interview with Defendant in Deadly SWATting Case Is Incredibly Damning”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  2. I guess in this guy’s twisted mind SWATing is like molestation.

    So does he have to stay in jail till his court date? I’m afraid he might start locking people up next.

    Pinandpuller (2f29e1)

  3. I read the Kansas laws and looked up some cases. California has “implied malice,” murder which is where you don’t care that your scary thing that you do might get someone killed.

    Kansas calls this “depraved heart,” or “extreme indifference,” murder. Kansas did not have this murder theory until 1992. This case talks about the history.

    One of the uses of this sort of statute in California is to sometimes charged reckless driving homicides as murders. Kansas faced the same issue with their statute and decided that this constituted extreme indifference murder.

    I think in the instant case, these statements are very bad for the defendant. Somwhere, Ken White is swearing. And when he hears about this development, he’ll swear more saying that defendant’s should be quiet. I think it’s good that he’s talking – not for him, but for society.

    Let’s talk about this implied malice/extreme indifference standard briefly. The showing in Kansas needs to be extreme indifference to human life. If Patterico and I go drinking and shooting off rifles in the woods and a stray hits someone, we probably weren’t being super-careful, but the woods ain’t full of people. If we go target shooting against the drywall in the garage in our suburban neighborhood, that’s more likely to be murdery if one of our bullets kills someone.

    But this requires a subjective showing of the appreciation of the risk. If, in fact, I am very dumb and believe that the wall of my garage will surely stop bullets from a rifle, I am not in fact guilty of this murder. (I mean, why would you have a non-bulletproof wall?) If this were my defense to accidentally killing a neighbor (I didn’t know!) investigators would probably go out and find out what I know about guns (a lot less than some of you, but a lot more than most) whether I’ve fired a gun into a wall before (kinda) and what I’ve said about the risks of unsafe use of firearms (uh-oh.)

    (I am a prosecutor. I do not speak for my office, because, uh, reasons. But I’d be happy to talk about this to anyone who is interested.)

    JRM (c80289)

  4. this just shows how the corrupt lickspittle fbi could be catching these guys if they took their duty to protect the public at all seriously

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  5. So the actual trigger man is off the hook?

    tom swift (239367)

  6. Looks as if this trial will be curling various folks’ hair.
    the prosecution will have to argue that the fact that cops are so obviously trigger happy and murderous that any reasonable person should have known this would happen. The thin blue line, the guys putting their lives on the line, between us and chaos, are going to have to be shown by the prosecution as making Dirty Harry look like Mother Teresa.

    The defense would have to make the case that anybody with a lick of sense would never believe a cop could ever, in any conceivable situation, shoot before knowing for certain. They’re like the Boy Scouts, only better.

    Richard Aubrey (10ef71)

  7. I don’t know who Burriss’s lawyer is, but if they authorized this interview, they should lose their bar card. It’s incredibly damning and certain to be played at his trial, if a trial occurs.

    He wouldn’t have necessarily needed his lawyer’s permission to agree to this interview, right? This punk seems exactly like the kind of dip-the-explicative-that-comes-before-hole who would happily agree to this interview all on his own accord. If he’s hanging himself with his own words, then so much the better.

    JVW (42615e)

  8. @ JVW, who asked (#7):

    He wouldn’t have necessarily needed his lawyer’s permission to agree to this interview, right?

    No, he wouldn’t, and it’s possible that the interview was arranged contrary to the lawyer’s private advice.

    You have the right to remain silent, and you have the right to throw that incredibly valuable right down the toilet by not remaining silent, and if you are stupid enough to do the latter, one of your few consolations will be that there are an astonishingly high percentage of criminal defendants who do likewise because they’re as stupid as you are.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  9. @ tom swift, who asked (#5):

    So the actual trigger man is off the hook?

    Neither the criminal jeopardy or civil liability of the officer who pulled the trigger is affected by this, even if Burriss is convicted of something. The officer’s situation is evaluated separately; there’s no “one to a customer rule” for homicides.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  10. ^^^ By which I mean the potential criminal jeopardy and potential civil liability. Burriss and the police officer are both entitled to a constitutional presumption of innocence with respect to potential criminal jeopardy, and any private plaintiff in a civil action will have the burden of proof against either.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  11. The police don’t have to be negligent for something bad to happen as a result of a swatting. The swatter put everyone in an inherently dangerous situation by reporting a violent murder with hostages. It’s a formula for misunderstanding since the police are responding with force to an imminent threat and the target has no clue what is happening.

    DRJ (15874d)

  12. It’s possible that Barris did not yet have a lawyer. The earlier story said that he was represented by a public defender at his arraignment. That could be one who is assigned to that courtroom and his representation of Barris ended when Barris left the courtroom.

    nk (dbc370)

  13. Burriss and the police officer are both entitled to a constitutional presumption of innocence

    And I note the officer isn’t posting videos.

    Kevin M (752a26)

  14. nk, that analysis seems unsound to me. If the public defender was appointed, the office represents the defendant throughout.

    Representation status does not affect your ability to talk to whoever you want – and it normally doesn’t even affect the ability of the cops to talk to you. (See: Montejo v. Louisiana.)

    JRM (c80289)

  15. Well, this staggering POS ought to be charged but I want to know what is going to happen to the cops that responded and killed the guy and specifically what is going to happen to the cop who pulled the trigger? You cannot just roll up on someone’s property and shoot them. It is against the law.

    WarEagle82 (2b3d34)

  16. You’re right that the office of the public defender is his attorney of record until there’s a substitution counsel. I meant the mechanics of it.

    My experience is that public defender teams are assigned to courtrooms. One team would have been in the courtroom of the presiding judge where he was arraigned. If he will also be the trial judge, then these PDs will continue to be his attorneys. However, if the case was assigned to another judge for trial, the PDs from that courtroom may not have even gotten the file yet.

    nk (dbc370)

  17. substitution *of* counsel

    nk (dbc370)

  18. The case against the cop is not closed WarEagle82. He is undergoing investigation but, like I said earlier, it could take months.

    nk (dbc370)

  19. Of the three, who literally held the power of life or death in their hands and exercised it– the police officer. End of story.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  20. That’s like tuning into the movie in the third act, it ignored the predicate.

    narciso (21eb6d)

  21. Patrick’s post raises a point I hadn’t considered before.

    The victim died in Kansas, but the act which precipitated their death was carried out in California. Is there a general principle that the place where the body lands is where the charges are filed?

    I would have thought it would be double jeopardy to try the swatter for murder or a related crime in two states, but if he broke the laws of two states while committing the same act, maybe not?

    Dave (445e97)

  22. No, for a short time, the United States Supreme Court had a one act-one crime rule for Double Jeopardy but then it amended the Constitution again, and now if I call a hit from Chicago to a hitman in Las Vegas and he kills the victim in Los Angeles, we can both be tried in all of the three states, Illinois, Nevada or California, and executed in each one, before or after we have served our federal sentence for interstate conspiracy to violate his civil rights.

    nk (dbc370)

  23. Thanks.

    Dave (445e97)

  24. “(and that he got paid for it). ”

    Sounds like someone else should be up for murder alongside him.

    mark (2f585f)

  25. Between Kansas and California, are there any “murder for hire” enhancements available to rachet up the charges in this case?

    Russ from Winterset (68af96)

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