Crime & Courts

WPD officer who fired shot in fatal swatting call sues city over wages

The Wichita police officer who fatally shot an unarmed man during a prank emergency call is suing the city for more than $31,000 in wages he says he lost while he was kept from returning to his regular police duties and a city-approved off-duty security job.

A lawsuit filed in Sedgwick County District Court on Thursday by Justin Rapp accuses the city of breach of contract. The suit contends the city refused to let Rapp resume his usual jobs “in a reasonable amount of time” following the Dec. 28, 2017, deadly swatting call at 1033 W. McCormick - causing him to miss out on income he would have received otherwise.

Wichita City Attorney and Director of Law Jennifer Magana in an email Thursday afternoon declined to comment on the allegations, citing pending litigation.

Rapp’s attorney, Sylvia Penner, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Rapp fired the shot that killed 28-year-old Andrew Finch as the father of two stepped onto his porch, not knowing that a hoaxer had reported a fake homicide and hostage situation at his home. The Sedgwick County District Attorney, Marc Bennett, announced in April 2018 that Rapp would not face criminal charges in the case. A civil lawsuit filed by Finch’s family against Rapp and the city is still pending.

The lawsuit filed by Rapp on Thursday says despite obtaining medical clearance twice at the city’s request and being exonerated in both the DA’s and the city’s internal investigation, he remained on restricted duty for more than 10 months after the shooting, until Oct. 30, 2018.

He also wasn’t allowed to return to a city-approved off-duty security post he’d held for years prior to Finch’s killing until April 2 of this year, about 15 months after the shooting, the lawsuit says. He claims he lost $21,300 in income “as a direct result” of that delay.

When the city did let Rapp work an off-duty job again starting on Nov. 4, 2018, it would only authorize a part-time, off-duty post that paid “significantly less money.”

That lower-paying position shorted him another $10,150, the lawsuit says.

The city’s actions amount to a “de facto suspension” and “de facto disciplinary action” even though “there were no findings at any time that ... (Rapp) violated any Department policies or procedures,” the lawsuit contends.

It argues that because Rapp’s treatment by the city was tantamount to a suspension and discipline, he should receive all lost wages, rank and benefits just like an employee who was disciplined but later exonerated would under the city’s collective bargaining agreement with the local police union.

Rapp asked to return to his regular jobs several times following the DA’s and internal investigations “and was repeatedly led to believe that he would be, only to be repeatedly told that he needed to wait,” his lawsuit says.

Rapp is seeking $31,450 in lost income plus interest “to the maximum extent allowed by law” and court costs, according to the lawsuit. He h as been a Wichita police officer since 2010.

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Amy Renee Leiker has been reporting for The Wichita Eagle since 2010. She covers crime, courts and breaking news and updates the newspaper’s online databases. You can reach her at 316-268-6644. She’s an avid reader and mom of three in her non-work time.
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