The police shot and killed a man in Wichita, Kansas in response to a fake police call. Swatting, as it is known, occurs when someone contacts law enforcement officials on another individual so that a SWAT team arrives at their house. This is illegal.
Despite the fact that it is against the law, it is a frequent occurrence. Some communities, especially the online video gaming community, find this ‘prank’ to be humorous. They falsely call in threats so that popular figures are embarrassed, and sometimes even hurt or killed. Often, this is done while someone is ‘live-streaming’. This is when they have a continuous live video for followers to watch.
The phone call
Before someone calls law enforcement, they try to find the location of their target. Sometimes, this information is publicly available on sites like Twitter, Facebook, or Skype. Other times, a hacker digs through other information to discover personal reports, which is also known as ‘doxing’. While it is not necessarily illegal, it may possibly lead to harm.
SWATting is essentially a prank call on police. When someone calls in, they do something called ‘spoofing’. This means that they hide their real location, while using the information they obtained online. On the phone call, they do their best to sound distressed or worried. The person informs law enforcement that there is a hostage situation, a bomb threat, or another situation that requires an immediate response. In some cases, they even suggest that there has been a murder, or someone’s death is imminent.
At this point, law enforcement will respond. Because of the typically serious nature of the call, they will assume the worst. This may mean that they may enter the house with guns drawn, and prepared for a fight. Despite the fact that the person may be totally innocent, shootings and injuries can occur.
It is important to reiterate that law enforcement will be on high alert. They think there is a bomb, murderer, or kidnapper on site. This means they believe that their lives, and the lives of others could be in danger.
SWATting is a crime. If you SWAT someone, you have not only hurt them, but you may have committed a federal offense. The FBI has prosecuted SWATting cases, and local authorities will not be happy that you misused their resources.
In some states, like California, the caller bears the full cost of the SWAT raid. This can involve a fine up to $10,000. There has been some discussion of instituting laws at the federal level, but there are no laws in place at the moment. People may be prosecuted under related charges.
People who have SWATted others have been thrown in prison. The government takes these crimes very seriously.
If you have been SWATted, you have the right to sue the prankster. Under certain circumstances, you may have the right to sue the police for using excessive force. These cases are exceptionally tricky, however.
The Berman Law Group can help. We have a team of sympathetic, smart, and sincere lawyers who are ready to help you out today. Call us now at 1-800-375-5555.