RALEIGH, N.C. – A U.S. sheriff's department has threatened to fire deputies selling raffle tickets for a Sony PlayStation 3 to benefit their fired coworker who fatally shot an unarmed teenager accused of stealing the video game.
Peyton Strickland, 18, was accused of stealing a PlayStation 3 when former deputy Christopher Long and other law enforcement officers served a warrant at his home on Dec. 1.
Strickland was killed when Long mistook the sound of a police battering ram for shots and opened fire, county authorities have said in court.
Wilmington police Sgt. Curt Stansbury said he and several New Hanover County deputies started the raffle.
No officers or deputies have sold raffle tickets while on duty, and they were just trying to make sure Long's two children have a good Christmas, he said.
When the county's chief deputy, Tom Parker, discovered Wednesday that two of his deputies were selling tickets, Parker said he threatened to fire them if they did not stop.
"I thought it was most inappropriate," Parker told the Wilmington Star-News. "It flies in the Strickland family's face as it would any family who's lost a loved one."
Wilmington police Chief Ralph Evangelous said he also heard about the raffle and called it "flabbergasting."
Authorities said the prize was later switched to a Panasonic 42-inch plasma TV.
Stansbury said anyone who bought a $20 raffle ticket in hopes of winning a PlayStation may ask for a refund, he said.
A grand jury declined to indict Long, though for a day he faced a second-degree murder charge because the jury foreman checked the wrong box on the indictment form.
District Attorney Ben David has said he will continue to investigate the case and "and future court action is anticipated," though he has refused to say specifically what action might occur.
A new grand jury is due to convene in January.