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December 3, 2006

Another Dead Citizen

by Adam Selene

Another citizen is dead in a raid conducted by police to serve a warrant. In this story, an 18 year old man, and his dog, is killed by police. He is suspected of armed robbery, supposedly one of two men that hit Justin Raines over the head and stole a PlayStation 3 from him.

It turns out that, although there were weapons in the house, Peyton Strickland kept them unloaded and none of them were in his hands when he answered a knock on the door. What, apparently, was in his hands was a game controller. Although he was, according to his roommate, going to answer the door, sheriff’s deputies knocked the door down before he could. They entered the house and fired four or five times, killing Strickland and his German Shepherd.

Although the police told Strickland’s roommate that they were there to serve a warrant, they never provided a copy of it to him. The District Attorney and Sheriff’s Department will conduct an investigation:

Investigators were reviewing the conduct of all officers and deputies involved in the incident, said New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David, who confirmed at least one sheriff’s deputy was involved in the shooting.

“I am making this my top priority,” David said Saturday. “No one’s above the law. If there’s any criminal conduct that can be established, I’m not going to hesitate to treat them as any other defendant.”

Neither he nor Sheriff Sid Causey would release any information on who was present at the time of the shooting or details about why or how it happened. The State Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the investigation, they said.

“It puts a cloud over everybody,” Causey said. “Nobody wants things to happen, but they do happen. When they do, we have to investigate … and then do the approriate thing.”

So, I have several questions.

  1. What about negligence, even if it wasn’t criminal? It sounds to me like the sheriff’s deputies chose a high risk approach to serve a warrant when they could have just waited until Strickland was leaving, or coming home, to serve the warrant. Or, simply waited for him to open the door. I have yet to hear anything that indicates the need for a forced entry. There was nothing that indicated immediate danger to anyone. So, even if there wasn’t criminal behavior, it sounds pretty negligent.
  2. What sort of compensation will be offered to the roommates, the friends, the family? Is the Sheriff’s department going to repair the home, clean up the blood, pay for the counseling that the roommate is likely to need?
  3. The Sheriff appears to be of the mindset that such things happen. It seems to me his mindset should be that they should never happen and a significant part of his job is making sure that citizens are protected. Obviously, I only have the quotes the paper chose to provide, hopefully this doesn’t reflect his attitude accurately.

Although not as cut and dried as the Kathryn Johnston case, it still seems pretty clear that Strickland didn’t have to be killed. Nor did his dog. What is interesting is that no details of why the police believed Strickland had committed armed robbery are provided. We have no way to judge if the warrant was appropriate, or not.

What do we know? An 18 year old is dead. A police officer may, potentially, have his career ruined, depending on this investigation. No weapons or lethal force was involved, or threat to the cops, except their own weapons. Another 18 year old is probably emotionally scarred for life. All of this, it would appear, could have been avoided by a change in tactics. As Radley Balko says:

Instead of kicking down doors, wouldn’t have been easier to just wait until this kid was coming or leaving his house?

As far as I can tell, yet another death to lay at the feet of a police culture that now emphasizes the citizen as the enemy.

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Permalink || Comments (6) || Categories: Police Watch
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  • Wiford Reed

    WTF? All this over a Playstation? AND The DA is going to investigate? What a joke. The DA will no doubt find justification. And I am sure the officer(s) involved are on PAID leave.
    New Hanover County sheriff’s deputy sounds like a trigger happy Barney Fife. Hate to see what happens if you run a red light.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/2006/11/22/comrades-i-hereby-declare-the-revolution/ Adam Selene

    Remember the days when people, in general, would have been outraged that the police used deadly force over a $500 theft? It would have been front page news on every national newspaper. Now, it’s ho hum, another police shooting.

  • Armed citizen

    The cops have declared war on American citizens, its that simple. Civil rights have gone out the window. We do live under fascism, its just not as flagrant as the historical examples we are familiar with. When the State can murder citizens with impunity, thats a fascist regime.

    People should rembember this murder every time they interact with an armed Agent of the State. It could happen to you. What can citizens do about a fascist regime? Well, recall the circumstances of the birth of this great nation. Our forefathers lived under tyranny. So, they changed the situation. And we, you , me, all of us, need to do the same. We need regime change right here at home. And dont wait for the next elections. That wont change a thing. This is bigger and more dangerous than one or two choices on a ballot. This is a fundamental aberration of government, some dark manifestation of a broken, corrupted system that no longer can do what it was chartered 200+ years ago to do.

  • Orrin Robbins

    Why send a SWAT team for an OFA? Why not make a simple phone call asking the young man to come to the police station? There was no information that violence was currently afoot or that the suspect or anyone else was brandishing a weapon.

    In fact when another college student took out a warrant against Peyton for an alleged assault arising out of an altercation at a party, that’s exactly what police did. They called Peyton and asked him to come in. After a quick call to his Dad, Peyton drove straight to the magistrate and turned himself in and so that the justice system could then work its course. Given this history, what reason was there to think he wouldn’t have done the same in this matter?

    A simple phone call could have spared a young man’s life, saved a fine family from a terrible tragedy that will have no end, and even saved the taxpayers the cost of the gasoline used to transport the Army of New Hanover to the scene of their assault.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that it was the equivalent of a coin toss that it was Peyton who was shot five times through the door. Had his roommate, who was not implicated any any criminal wrong doing, been the one nearer the door, then he would have been the one to be riddled by the police barrage. The same would be true of any guest at the residence.

    Thus any idiot, who suggests that Peyton somehow deserved to be shot for his alleged involvent in certain unproven allegations, misses the point that the SWAT team shot the boy that had the bad fortune to come to the door, not any particular individual. The young man who was shot and killed happened happened to be Peyton Strickland.

    I sincerely hope that the District Attorney is a man of his word and follows the truth where it leads. If that truth ultimately shows certain members of law enforcement to be criminally culpable, then those persons will be accordingly prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

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