Deputy who fatally shot Black airman had burst into wrong apartment, family says

This photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, shows Senior Airman Roger Fortson in 2019 (U.S. Air Force via AP)

MIAMI (AP) — A deputy responding to a disturbance call at a Florida apartment complex burst into the wrong unit and fatally shot a Black U.S. Air Force airman who was home alone, an attorney for the man’s family said.

This photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, shows Senior Airman Roger Fortson in 2019 (U.S. Air Force via AP) 

Senior Airman Roger Fortson, 23, who was based at the Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, was shot in his off-base apartment in Fort Walton Beach on the afternoon of Friday, May 3.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said at a Thursday news conference that Fortson was alone in his apartment and on a Facetime call with his girlfriend when Okaloosa County sheriff’s deputies arrived.

Crump gave the account provided by the girlfriend: Hearing a knock on the door, Fortson called out and asked who it was, but didn’t get a response. When there was a second, louder knock, he looked through the peephole and said he couldn’t see anyone. He went to retrieve his gun — which Crump said was legally owned — and as he returned to the living room, deputies burst through the door. One of them shot Fortson six times.

Fortson died at a hospital, officials said. The deputy involved in the shooting was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

“We are calling for transparency in the investigation into Roger’s death and the immediate release of body cam video to the family,” Crump said. “His family and the public deserve to know what occurred in the moments leading up to this tragedy.”

Crump is a nationally known attorney based in Tallahassee, Florida. He has been involved in multiple high-profile law enforcement shooting cases involving Black people, including those of Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Tyre Nichols and George Floyd.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office didn’t immediately respond to an email or voicemail from The Associated Press seeking comment about Crump’s claims. Sheriff Eric Aden posted a statement Wednesday on Facebook expressing sadness about the shooting.

The sheriff’s office said in a statement last week that a deputy responding to a call of a disturbance in progress at the apartment complex reacted in self-defense after encountering an armed man. The office did not say who made the call.

Fortson was assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron as a special missions aviator, where one of his roles as a member of the squadron’s AC-130J Ghostrider aircrew was to load the gunship’s 30mm and 105mm cannons during missions.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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