Florida deputies fatally shot U.S. airman after they burst into wrong apartment, attorney says 

Francis Akhalbey May 09, 2024
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies fatally shot Senior Airman Roger Fortson on May 3 -- Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force via AP

Renown attorney Ben Crump said Florida deputies shot and killed a 23-year-old U.S. Air Force airman after the law enforcement officials “burst” into a wrong apartment to investigate a disturbance call. 

According to The Associated Press, the fatal May 3 incident occurred at Fort Walton Beach. The deceased, identified as Senior Airman Roger Fortson, was fatally shot in his off-base apartment at the said location. Fortson was based at the Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field.

In a statement, Crump said a witness was on Facetime with Fortson “during the entire encounter.” The witness said Fortson was alone in his off-base apartment when he heard his door being knocked. 

“He asked, ‘who is it?’ but didn’t get a response,” the statement said. “A few minutes later, there was a very aggressive knock on the door, but Roger didn’t see anyone when he looked out the peephole.”

The statement said Fortson became concerned and “did what any law-abiding citizen would do and retrieved his legally-owned gun, but as he was walking back to the living room, police burst through the door.”

Fortson was shot six times after the deputies noticed the 23-year-old was armed with a gun, the statement said. “The witness has said that she saw Roger on the ground stating, ‘I can’t breathe,’ after he was shot,” the statement continued.

“She has also said the police were in the wrong apartment as there was no disturbance in the apartment and he was alone.” Fortson later succumbed to his injuries in a hospital. The statement said Fortson joined the military after “graduating from high school with honors and had no criminal record.”

“By all accounts, he was a stellar member of the Air Force and loved by his community.” The statement said authorities have since provided little information about the shooting.

Meanwhile, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputy linked to the shooting has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, The Associated Press reported. In a statement last week, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said a deputy had acted in self-defense after coming across an armed man at an apartment building.

Authorities said the deputies were at the address to investigate an ongoing disturbance report – though the nature of the said disturbance was not disclosed. The office did not also identify the individual who called authorities to make that report.

“The circumstances surrounding Roger’s death raise serious questions that demand immediate answers from authorities, especially considering the alarming witness statement that the police entered the wrong apartment,” Crump said.

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

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 9, 2024


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