Home National news Police Shoots, Kills an Air Force Service Member in His Apartment

Police Shoots, Kills an Air Force Service Member in His Apartment

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Airman Roger FortsonSenior Airman Roger Fortson was shot and killed by police.

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from BlackMansStreet.Today

(TriceEdneyWire.com/BlackMansStreet.Today) – An attorney for the family of a Florida special operations airman who was shot and killed in his home by a local police officer said Wednesday that officers responding to a reported disturbance may have entered the wrong apartment.

Senior Airman Roger Fortson, 23, who was assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, was alone in his Fort Walton Beach, Florida, apartment on May 3 when police burst through the door and fatally shot him six times, according to Ben Crump, an attorney representing Fortson’s family.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office was responding to a reported disturbance between a man and woman in the apartment building, and a responding deputy shot Fortson, who was Black, multiple times in the chest, according to police radio communications.

“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. “The narrative released by law enforcement, which falsely suggests that Roger posed a threat, is deeply troubling and inconsistent with the details provided by that witness: Roger was home alone, causing no disturbance, when his life was tragically cut short by law enforcement.”

The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the attorney’s claims.

Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz issued a statement on Friday about the fatal shooting of an airman killed by an Okaloosa deputy.

“The killing of Airman Roger Fortson in my community continues to be a source of deep sadness. As the investigation continues, I think one thing is clear from the body cam and should be stated unequivocally: Roger did not deserve to die. He did nothing wrong,” Gaetz said.

Fortson lived in an off-base residence, and his special operations squadron at Hurlburt Field in the Florida panhandle flies AC-130J Ghostrider gunships.

Crump said there was no disturbance and that Fortson was home alone on a video call with another person, who reported the airman heard a knock on the door.

Fortson, according to the witness, asked, “Who is it?” But he didn’t receive an answer. After a subsequent “aggressive” second knock and seeing no one through the peephole, Fortson grabbed his legally owned gun, Crump detailed.

As Fortson was walking back to his living room, police entered the apartment and shot him. He reportedly said, “I can’t breathe” while on the ground after being shot, Crump said, repeating a witness account of the event.

Military.com reviewed publicly available police radio audio that reported a call for a disturbance at an apartment complex at 319 Racetrack Road around 4:30 p.m. local time.

“We don’t have anything beyond a male and female; it’s all fourth-party information from the front desk at the leasing office,” a deputy said on the radio.

A few minutes later, another deputy called in to report “shots fired, suspect down” and called for emergency medical services.

“Multiple gunshot wounds to the chest, Black male,” another deputy chimes in shortly after. Fortson was shot six times, Crump said in his statement.

No other details, including the circumstances of the disturbance that prompted the local deputies to visit the apartment building, were released. Fortson was taken to an area hospital, where he later died. No officers were harmed in the incident.

Fortson joined the Air Force on Nov. 19, 2019, according to a copy of his service record provided to Military.com. He joined as an AC-130J gunner. Crump added that Fortson graduated from high school with honors and had no criminal record.

The deputy involved was not identified in the news release and was “placed on paid administrative leave” pending the outcome of an investigation and administrative review, the sheriff’s office said.

“I immediately placed the deputy on administrative leave and have asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct the investigation required in such incidents,” Sheriff Eric Aden said.

The State Attorney’s Office will also conduct an independent review. At this time, we humbly ask for our community’s patience as we work to understand the facts that resulted in this tragic event.”

The sheriff’s office declined to provide Military.com with the original 911 call and the police report on the incident, citing “the ongoing active investigation” in an emailed response.

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