The strange events surrounding the shooting death of Peyton Strickland by police who stormed his apartment got even stranger this week. A judge has declared that a deputy who was indicted on Monday of a charge of second degree murder is not indicted after all. Reports say the jury foreman accidentally checked the wrong box on the jury form.
"Cpl. Christopher Long was indicted Monday on a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the Dec. 1 death of Peyton Strickland. But a judge dismissed the charge Tuesday after the foreman of the grand jury said he checked the wrong box on the indictment form and that members of the grand jury didn't find enough evidence to charge Long with murder.
[County D.A.Ben] David met Wednesday with officials from the Special Prosecution Section of the Attorney General's Office to discuss the grand jury's reversal to determine what to do next. He declined to answer specific questions about the investigation Thursday but said the case would move forward."This case is still open. The investigation is ongoing, and future court action is anticipated," David said.
Outrage has brought death threat's against the deputy, which is sheer nonsense. The family of the 18 year old has been through unimaginable and difficult times. But there are elements in the evidence presented so far that stands out in my mind.
One is the deputy's claim in the grand jury hearing that he mistook the sounds of a battering ram for gunshots from inside the house, which prompted him to fire. Forget that he is outside of the apartment, knowing the door is about to be rammed. He's admitted he fired without reason.
That, plus the fact the coroner says the bullets which killed Strickland came through a closed door, indicate some critical breakdown in the normal course of events in serving a warrant and an eagerness to shoot first and ask questions later.
After all the confusion so far, it looks like incompetence wins the day, at the cost of one young man's life. The authorities involved have done massive damage to their own reputations too.
As for the family, they issued to following statement:
"This is bizarre.
How can an indictment one day not be an indictment the next? How could this happen? Yesterday, our son’s murderer was going to have to answer for what he did. Today, we just don’t know what is going on in Wilmington. We are upset, confused and searching for answers.
We call on the judge presiding over the grand jury to hold an inquiry into what happened here and make the results public. And, if it shows that anyone even attempted to influence the grand jury, we trust charges of obstructing justice will be filed.