State News

UNC-Wilmington settles in death of Durham student

Posted March 22, 2013

— The University of North Carolina-Wilmington has settled with the family of a college student killed in 2006 by a New Hanover County Sheriff's deputy.

Peyton Strickland, 18, of Durham, was killed on Dec. 1, 2006, as deputies and UNC-W police raided a rental house in Wilmington in search of two stolen PlayStation 3 video systems.

Strickland, who was a Cape Fear Community College student, was shot in the head and in the chest as he went to open the front door, authorities said.

UNC-W police had asked for support from New Hanover County deputies because they feared the residents of the house were armed and dangerous. Strickland was unarmed when he was shot.

Under the settlement, the university acknowledges Strickland had good character and no criminal record. The state will pay his estate $150,000 and use $100,000 to accredit UNC-W police officers.

"By all accounts, Peyton was a local college student in good standing, a friend to many and a talented young industrial artist," UNC-W said in a statement Thursday. "His death is a loss to all of us, especially those who knew and appreciated Peyton’s special qualities.

"This incident serves to remind our community of the imperatives associated with the prudent pursuit of law enforcement, and the continued evolution of safety policies," the statement said. "Peyton’s death also serves as motivation to ensure that law enforcement personnel are ably trained and as prepared as possible to prevent such tragedies in the future."

Strickland's estate is dropping all other claims against the state, the university, its police department and several people.

The sheriff's office settled with Strickland's family in 2008 for $2.5 million.

Deputy Christopher Long told investigators he fired on Strickland after he mistook the sound of a battering ram against the front door for gunshots. Long was fired shortly after the shooting, but two grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges.

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  • Paul Parker Mar 22, 7:59 p.m.

    mszipster, charges were dropped because HE WAS DEAD, and it is EXTREMELY rare to pursue charges against a dead person (in fact I am not sure that charges have EVER been pursued against a dead person), and had nothing to do with any one feeling sorry for them because of the loss of their son. That is still beside the point though, because it was still not PROVEN that he was guilty.

  • mszipster Mar 22, 7:35 p.m.

    @PParker, charges were dropped out of feeling sorry for losing their son. There was no chance to prove him guilty because of his death, it is amazing what money can cover up. They had video footage as well as witnesses to the assaults. Note: assault(S).

  • Paul Parker Mar 22, 7:26 p.m.

    mszipster, they CAN'T because, even IF Strickland was guilty (which has NEVER been proven), he is no longer around for them to go after, and they have no legal grounds to go after his family for something he did.

  • mszipster Mar 22, 7:12 p.m.

    "If I was Strickland's victim in this case, I would go after some of that Strickland family money in a civil suit and sue their pants right back for physical injuries and mental anguish from the robbery."

    Couldn't have said it better myself, there wasn't just ONE victim, there were a few.

  • Paul Parker Mar 22, 7:01 p.m.

    @BoyInBlue,

    1. Strickland was NOT armed and dangerous! He was in fact UNARMED and peaceably coming to answer the door.

    2. You seem to assume (falsely) that cops should be allowed to violate a very basic rule of fire arms safety (know what you are shooting at) just because they are overly nervous and twitchy. Once again there were several other officers there that did NOT make the 'mistake' of thinking the sound of a battering ram was a gun shot.

    3. I find it disheartening that you are so naive that you think that those 'investigations' when an officer fires his gun always lead to justice. This case well proves that that is not the case.

    4. Cops do NOT do their job 'just so I can enjoy my life', and I assure you I am well capable of defending myself and do not need to rely, nor will I rely, on a cop who is at best several minutes away to defend me.

  • jackflash123 Mar 22, 6:28 p.m.

    Strickland was no saint, but that's really irrelevant to the injustice of his death. Police shootings aren't justified or unjustified based on what a suspect may or may not have done previously. They're justified or unjustified by what he or she is doing right then, at that moment.

    And if we don't recognize that, we're basically saying that once you're suspected of something, anything goes and there is no Constitution.

  • BoyInBlue Mar 22, 6:06 p.m.

    @Paul Parker

    Yeah and the decisions officers make on a day to day basis are split second decisions. What I find funny is that I agree you have no business being in law enforcement, but also you have no business in talking about Law Enforcement. You want to sit back and judge an officers decisions after the incident but in fact you have no operational knowledge of the incident its self. The story says the people inside were armed and dangerous, so the officers that were part of that operation were planning for the worst. For you to arm chair Quarterback an incident that you have no knowledebale information on or any idea how those things work should be wrong. Officers who fire their guns are investigated on all levels criminal and departmental. So just remember when you wake up in your little suburbia home all safe and sound, putting on your suit and driving to work. There are men and women that put on bulletproof vest and strap on a gun just so you can enjoy your life. shut it

  • Paul Parker Mar 22, 5:36 p.m.

    Strickland had an earlier arrest on a felony assault charge."

    Terkel
    March 22, 2013 5:24 p.m.

    Terkel, and Marty King, I hope you realize that an arrest is NOT the same as a conviction. Just because somebody is arrested for something does NOT mean they are guilty of the crime they were arrested for!

  • Terkel Mar 22, 5:24 p.m.

    Try this, MDD:

    "UNC-W police asked for support from the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office during the arrests of the suspects in the case because of the potential that the suspects were armed and dangerous, authorities said. Strickland had an earlier arrest on a felony assault charge."

    From the archives on this story.

  • Mrs.DarylDixon Mar 22, 4:51 p.m.

    "So let me get this straight: 1. Strickland, a convicted felon..." -- Marty King

    where are you getting this from? the article here clearly states, "Strickland had good character and no criminal record."

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