State News

New Hanover County pays roommate of shooting victim

Posted November 2, 2010 12:45 p.m. EDT
Updated November 2, 2010 4:29 p.m. EDT

— New Hanover County has agreed to pay $200,000 to the roommate of a Durham teen who was shot and killed during a sheriff's raid almost four years ago.

The StarNews of Wilmington reported Tuesday that the settlement with Michael Rhoton is connected to the Dec. 1, 2006, shooting death of 18-year-old Peyton Strickland by a sheriff's corporal.

Rhoton's lawsuit said the New Hanover County sheriff's office failed to follow proper procedures while serving a warrant on Strickland at their home in Wilmington.

Strickland had been suspected of taking a University of North Carolina at Wilmington student's Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles when Cpl. Christopher Long accidentally shot Strickland during a raid.

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

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

Strickland's parents reached a $2.45 million settlement with New Hanover County in 2008. 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.

Attorney Tom Comerford says Rhoton's settlement acknowledges the problems his client has had because of the shooting.