WILMINGTON -- It's been more than a year since a New Hanover County sheriff's deputy shot and killed a Cape Fear Community College student, 18-year-old Peyton Strickland, in a bungled raid on the victim's home. Today there's a resolution in the long-disputed case. Strickland's family and New Hanover County agreed on a $2.45 million settlement Tuesday. Along with the monetary settlement Sheriff Sid Causey also agreed to have a consultant come in to review the policies and procedures of the sheriff's emergency response team. Former Deputy Chris Long was part of that team when it tried to serve an arrest and search warrant at Strickland's home in December of 2006. Strickland was a suspect in the theft of a Playstation 3 game from another UNCW student. Long confused the sound of a battering ram hitting the door for gunshots and shot through the door, hitting Strickland in the head. Long, a ten-year veteran of the force, was fired after the incident but cleared of any wrong doing by a grand jury. Wednesday the sheriff issued an apology to Strickland's family. Causey said, "First and foremost, I would like to issue an apology to the Strickland family. I cannot imagine the immense sorrow the Strickland family must continue to feel but they will forever be in my thought and prayers." The Stricklands said they have accepted Causey's apology and plan to spend all $2.45 million on charities and a foundation in Strickland's name. The county will have to pay $25,000 of the settlement. The settlement agreement will be presented to county commissioners at a March 10 meeting.
Family's statement We accept the sincere apology of Sheriff Sid Causey. We also appreciate Sheriff Causey's public acknowledgment that Peyton was unarmed and posed no threat as he answered his front door. We believe Peyton's death would have been prevented if the Sheriff's Department had better Emergency Response Team policies and procedures. 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. We look forward to creating The Peyton Brooks Strickland Foundation. By its work, the Foundation will reflect Peyton's generosity of spirit and compassion in its charitable work in New Hanover County and elsewhere. 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. Don and Kathy Strickland February 27, 2008
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