Cop <i>not</i> charged in PS3 shooting

[UPDATE] Charges dropped in case involving police officer fatally shooting teen suspected of stealing PS3s; jury foreman says he "checked the wrong box."

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A series of crimes has dogged the US launch of Sony's PlayStation 3. So far in the life of the console, which sells for an average of just under $1,200 on eBay, there have been shootings, muggings, and thefts.

In one instance, a student who had waited in line for three days to get his hands on two of the consoles was battered with a blunt object while unloading the PS3s from his car. The consoles were stolen during the assault. Some two weeks later, police served warrants on two other students suspected of being involved in the assault. During the raid on one of the residences, in which the Emergency Response Team (ERT) was called in to support the campus police, suspect Peyton Strickland was fatally shot.

Christopher Long, who had been a deputy since 1996 and had participated in the raid, was fired from his post on December 8 by Sheriff Sid Causey. Yesterday Long was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder by a New Hanover County grand jury, according to the local paper, The Wilmington Star News.

During the raid, the officers could see into the residence through three glass window panes on the front door. According to an official report, the officers watched Strickland approach the door, look through the window, and then walk away. Previously, Strickland's roommate Michael Rhoton had said that the youth might have been holding a PS3 controller as he approached the door, leading some to speculate that the officers mistook the black object in his hand for a weapon, but no mention was made of the controller in grand jury testimony. It was stated, however, that the student was unarmed.

The officers ordered him to open the door and another sheriff's deputy began using a battering ram to enter the premises. Officer Long confused the sound of the battering ram striking the door with gunfire, and fired shots, the autopsy later reported. Strickland was shot in the shoulder and in the head--the fatal shot had ricocheted off another object into his skull.

Two other deputies, currently on paid leave, have been cleared of any wrongdoing.

[UPDATE] In a dramatic turn of events, murder charges against Long have been dismissed, after the grand jury foreman admitted to incorrectly checking the wrong box that would decide Long's fate.

Upon hearing the news, Strickland's parents released the following statement: "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."

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