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Slain Teen's Family Settles With Sheriff's Office

Posted February 27, 2008

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— The family of a Durham teen killed by a former New Hanover County deputy has reached a legal settlement with the county.

Peyton Strickland, 18, was killed on Dec. 1, 2006, as New Hanover County deputies and University of North Carolina at Wilmington police raided a rental house in search of two stolen PlayStation 3 video systems.

Strickland, who was unarmed, was shot in the head and in the chest as he went to open the front door, authorities said.

The county's insurance carrier will pay Strickland's family $2.45 million, and New Hanover County Sheriff Sid Causey issued a public apology for the shooting.

"I am profoundly sorry for the death of Peyton Strickland," Causey said in a videotaped statement. "His death was, and remains, a tragedy for everyone involved."

Causey also agreed as part of the settlement to hire a consultant to review the policies and procedures of his department's Emergency Response Team.

Strickland's parents thanked Causey for his efforts to make up for the shooting.

"We believe Peyton’s death would have been prevented if the Sheriff’s Department had better Emergency Response Team policies and procedures," Don and Kathy Strickland said in the statement.

"We are therefore gratified that Sheriff Causey has agreed to have his department’s ERT policies and procedures evaluated and that he is committed to identifying and implementing changes that may help save lives. It is also our hope that other law enforcement agencies around the state will learn from this tragedy."

Deputy Christopher Long told investigators he shot Strickland when he mistook the sound of a battering ram against the front door for gunshots. UNCW police had asked for support from New Hanover deputies because they feared the residents of the house were armed and dangerous.

"One of my officers made a mistake as to the existence of a deadly threat," Causey said in his statement. "I accept full responsibility for the actions of my deputies in the line of duty."

Long was fired shortly after the shooting, but two grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges.

The first grand jury returned an indictment charging Long with second-degree murder in the case, but the charge was dismissed the following day after the grand jury foreman acknowledged that he had marked the wrong box on the indictment.

New Hanover County authorities then turned the case over to the state Attorney General's Office to avoid the appearance of a cover-up or a vendetta against Long.

The case was presented to a second grand jury in July, but members voted against indicting Long on a manslaughter charge.

Strickland's parents said they plan to use the settlement money to create a foundation in the teen's name to conduct charitable work in the Wilmington area.

"Peyton is gone. Nothing can bring him back. We are, however, thankful for the New Hanover County Sheriff Department’s efforts to right its wrong and, in doing so, to help us ensure Peyton’s legacy," they said.

65 Comments

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  • sunflowerbubbles Feb 28, 2008

    so because your son was a criminal, and put a cop in danger, they get paid? what? how did this happen? Poor cop...

  • lizard Feb 28, 2008

    Man! This is pretty bad. Made a family rich due to a mistake during the arrest of a thief.

    Deputy ought to sue the estate of the thief for putting him in that position to make a mistake, maybe.

  • Demented Feb 27, 2008

    Rock 21, that was my point. I blame the system for placing the officer in a situation where it is so easy to make such a horrible mistake.

  • lampagenda Feb 27, 2008

    Well at least his plaintiff attorney father is consistent in cashing in on his son's tragic death.

  • Rock21 Feb 27, 2008

    Together with the Watts riots of the early 1960s, Charles Whitman's shootings (Texas Tower 8/1/66) were considered the impetus for establishing SWAT teams and other task forces to deal with situations beyond normal police procedures. Now we have SWAT Teams in cities as small as 5000 population. With County and State Swat teams you could have 5 or moe teams in a county. They are trained to be highly agressive and lethal. They are not the problem, we need them when violence breaks out. We do not need them to be door busters in non violent situations like this one. Yes, the County and the Judge that issued the warrent should be held accountable. Not the Law Enforcement Agencies. Until the Government powers only use SWAT teams for their intended purposes these sad situations will continue.

  • Fuquay Resident Feb 27, 2008

    OALA, did you stop to think this "on-duty officer" might be on his break or lunch? They do get breaks and lunches.

  • thepeopleschamp Feb 27, 2008

    I love the posters with the "my tax dollars pay your salary". I paid to go to a New England Patriots game, Tom Brady makes his salary from ticket sales BUT I didn't get to call Brady's plays from the stands.

  • atozca Feb 27, 2008

    No one dies before his appointed time. I realize that truth brings no comfort to the parents; however, to sue and win such big payoffs in an accidental death is scary. I pray they do a lot of good with their new non profit venture.

  • OALA Feb 27, 2008

    Southernlady, I have witnessed on duty officers sound asleep in their cars, doing word searches, and talking on their personal cell phones. It is not a stretch to think they are some that play on their laptops...

  • SouthernLady05 Feb 27, 2008

    I'm sorry but I had to comment on this one:
    "DarkHorse(Cop)- Your boss needs to take your gun back! Your probably that cop sitting on the side of the road on his laptop getting paid from my tax money.RRsaidso"

    Did you ever think that maybe... maybe... that police officer on the side of the rode "on his laptop" was typing up reports? Huh? No you didn't. They could be on the side of the road to show a presence, causing ppl to slow down. So that two jobs at once, writing reports and slowing drivers down.

    OR... MAYBE.... the police officer was running radar, which you assumed (we know what that is) was him playing on his laptop.

    WOW... reality check. Police officers write reports on duty too. Do not make blanket statements until you have sat in a police car and witnessed an officer on thier lap top not doing work. Your tax dollars do go towards LEO's writing reports... as they should. IT's not a waste. W/O a report, no one would ever get convicted.

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