There’s a news story going around about the Call of Duty players who got into an argument over an online wager. If what the stories are saying is true, it gets so heated that threats ensue and one gives the other a fake home address in a “come at me bro” show of bravado. The other takes the address and gives it to a known swatter, a person who “swats” people by contacting the police in such a way as to make them believe there is a crisis at the target address. One thing leads to another and a 28-year-old man in Wichita is now dead.
Let’s leave aside the question of culpability of the law enforcement involved for now … when is the news media going to stop calling swatting a “prank”?!?
- FoxNews — Kansas police investigate whether fatal shooting was result of prank called ‘swatting’
- Newsweek — ‘CALL OF DUTY’ SWATTING PRANK LED POLICE TO SHOOT AND KILL A MAN, GAMERS SAY
- NYMag — Call of Duty Swatting ‘Prank’ Apparently Kills a Bystander
- The Verge — Call of Duty player’s swatting prank results in deadly police shooting of Kansas man
This isn’t the first time that swatting has resulted in death or serious injury, let alone the psychological terror and humiliation of being attacked and grilled by police in your own home.
What would be the charge if someone gave an address to a person who is widely known to burn down people’s houses “as a prank”? If the pyromaniac went through with the crime at the specified address, wouldn’t that be conspiracy to commit arson at least? And if someone died in the fire? Wouldn’t the charge of murder be discussed? I don’t see how swatting is any different.1
A man is dead. If things actually occurred the way things appear, this was not a “prank”. This was a threat of great bodily injury, followed by specific actions intended to place someone in harm’s way, resulting in someone else’s death. This was a serious crime and it should be treated as such.
I suppose the difference is that the arsonist in my example is committing a crime, whereas the police are not even though someone dies as a direct result of the inciter’s and swatter’s actions. So the rule about someone dying in the commission of a crime doesn’t apply. ↩