Local News

Pathologist: 'Tumbling' Bullet Killed Durham Teen

Posted December 7, 2006 2:10 p.m. EST

— The bullet fired by a New Hanover County deputy that killed a Durham teen last week was tumbling when it hit him, suggesting it first struck something else, according to a pathologist.

Peyton Strickland, 18, a student at Cape Fear Community College, was killed Dec. 1 at his Wilmington home. Nine heavily armed deputies accompanied University of North Carolina at Wilmington police to the house to serve warrants for Strickland's arrest and to search the house.

Strickland, a roommate and another man were suspected of assaulting a UNC-W student on Nov. 17 and stealing two PlayStation 3 consoles from him, authorities said.

Dr. Charles Garrett, who works in the State Medical Examiner's Office in Jacksonville, performed the autopsy on Strickland and said the teen was shot twice -- once in the head and once in the chest. The head wound, which was the fatal shot, struck Strickland sideways instead of straight on, he said.

Because the bullet was "tumbling" when it hit Strickland, Garrett said, it hit something else, likely the front door to the house, before it struck him.

The bullet that hit Strickland in the chest did not hit anything else, Garrett said. There were no other wounds on the teen, he said, noting "nothing else was wrong" with him.

By law, officers can't shoot from the outside into an occupied home unless they believe their lives are in imminent danger.

Witnesses said Strickland was unarmed during the shooting.

Detective Larry Robinson, 34, Sgt. Greg Johnson, 39, and Cpl. Christopher Long, 34, have been placed on administrative leave pending the results of investigations by the SBI and the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Sid Causey has refused to identify the other six deputies who were at the house at the time of the shooting.

Strickland's roommate, Braden Delaney Riley, 21, of Apex, was arrested Monday and charged with armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and breaking and entering a motor vehicle, according to Ryan David Mills, 20, of Durham, Strickland's friend who was arrested last week on similar charges.