Local News

Slain Durham teen's family sues UNC-W

Posted October 31, 2008 7:00 p.m. EDT

— The family of a Durham teen killed by a former New Hanover County deputy filed a lawsuit on Friday against the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and its police department.

Peyton Strickland, 18, was killed on Dec. 1, 2006, as New Hanover County deputies and UNC-W 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.

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

The teen's parents, Don and Kathy Strickland, reached a $2.45 million settlement with New Hanover County in February. In addition to the monetary payment, Sheriff Sid Causey issued a public apology for the shooting and promised to review the policies and procedures of his department's Emergency Response Team.

In a five-page release signed by the Stricklands in March, the family said they plan to file suit against UNC-W for its role in Peyton Strickland's death.

"The (Stricklands) have advised (New Hanover County officials) of their intention to pursue claims for wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress arising from the conduct of the UNC-W police department through its agents, servants and employees," the release stated, using legal language.

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