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Father of Slain Teen Speaks to Grand Jury

Posted July 10, 2007

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— The father of a Durham teen killed last December during a botched police raid in Wilmington testified Tuesday before a grand jury  investigating the case.

State officials have asked the 18-member grand jury to consider indicting Christopher Long, a former New Hanover County deputy, on a charge of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the death of 18-year-old Peyton Strickland.

The grand jury hearing is expected to continue Wednesday.

Strickland was killed by a shot to the head on Dec. 1 as New Hanover County deputies and University of North Carolina at Wilmington police raided his rented house in search of two PlayStation 3 video-game consoles.

Long testified before the grand jury Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, admitting that he killed Strickland when he mistook the sound of a battering ram against the front door of the house for gunshots.

Strickland's father, Don Strickland, testified before the grand jury Tuesday afternoon.

The hearing is very unusual, according to legal experts, who note the investigating officers are usually the only witnesses before grand juries.

A different New Hanover County grand jury indicted Long for second-degree murder in the case, but the charge was dropped a day later when the jury foreman admitted that he mistakenly checked the wrong box on the indictment form.

New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David turned the case over to the state Attorney General's Office and the State Bureau of Investigation in February, saying he wanted to avoid the appearance of either a cover-up or a vendetta against Long.

Twelve of the grand jurors must agree on a charge to return an indictment. Voluntary manslaughter carries a prison term of at least three years.


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  • App. State Mountaineer Jul 11, 2007

    Did you ever meet Peyton Rockenhorse? Grow up with him? Spend an afternoon with him?

  • K9Tucker.LoveMYcop Jul 11, 2007

    It's a tragedy that the young man was killed and I am very sympathetic to the family, however, he was not innocent in this situation. Maybe the LEO did "overreact", but he did what he thought he had to do to protect himself. God bless to the families of all involved.

  • AFLOWERS Jul 11, 2007

    With all of the crime, not to mention all of the drugs these days, the police officer probably was on guard and thought he was defending himself and his fellow officers when he heard the noise. He probably reacted before he had time to think. I personally think this was not ment to happen. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the victim as well as to the police officer.

  • Rocknhorse Jul 11, 2007

    In response to the comment about shooting an unarmed teen who "allegedly took part in the stealing of a stupid game" ... You make it sound so petty. Yes, innocent until proven guilty and all, but he was caught on camera and his photo matched his driver's license, so it's a pretty reasonable conclusion that he was involved and needed to be arrested. Other evidence and past records indicate he is a violent felon. It may have just been a 'stupid game' but it was assault with a weapon that gave him the power to steal the stupid game! As far as shooting the dog - well, I love dogs and hate to hear about them getting shot in situations like this. But the officers were there to do their job and if the dog acted agressively toward them, they were within their rights to protect themselves. Sorry! I hate it too, but that's the way it goes.

  • Rocknhorse Jul 11, 2007

    It's so easy to sit back AFTER the fact, examine the conditions, and say "woulda, coulda, shoulda." However, at the moment in time, based on information the police officers had about the suspect, a positive ID from surveillance camera matching the driver's license, and other info about the TYPE of person they were going in to apprehend, the officers acted in a manner equal to who they were arresting-a convicted violent felon! It has been stated that the bullet that entered Peyton's head was a tumbling bullet, in other words, it passed through something prior to hitting him. The officers have testified that they had reason to suspect high powered weapons. The officer responded in a manner in which he was trained to respond! Peyton is not the sweet innocent that he is being painted to be. Should he have been shot? No! But was it malicious or negligent? I think not! Long was doing his job and doing it well! I would welcome him to keep my neighborhood safe!

  • ERRN Jul 11, 2007

    OK, the boy was shot throught the door, that means the officer had to be facing the door, wouldn't he have seen the battering ram???

  • carolinahome Jul 11, 2007

    why did he shoot someone that did not have a weapon?? and he shot him in the head!

  • App. State Mountaineer Jul 10, 2007

    Okay, first off onyourheels how on earth does your comment make any sense? sure Payton allegedly took part in the stealing of a stupid game console, does that warrant an unarmed teenager to be murdered in cold blood? They also murdered his dog, sounds like some triger happy cops to me. As for the father, I believe he is completely qualified to testify-- as to my knowledge he is a very good lawyer in Durham, NC.

  • ladyblue Jul 10, 2007

    teachnow-Why wasn'tduke players allowed to be at hearing? Was that another one of the incorrect things Nifong did. Thanks for the info. I didn't know much about GJ

  • onyourheels2 Jul 10, 2007

    if no crime had been comitted the police would not had been there.