Florida congressman who fatally shot aviator Roger Fortson fired

A Florida sheriff fired a deputy Friday who shot and killed a black airman at his home while holding a handgun pointed at the ground, saying the deputy’s life was never in danger and he should not have fired his weapon.

Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden has fired Deputy Eddie Duran, who fatally shot Senior Airman Roger Fortson on May 3 after responding to a domestic violence call and being directed to Fortson’s apartment.

Body camera video shows that when the deputy arrived at Fortson’s door, he stood silently for 20 seconds outside and listened, but no voices inside are heard on his body camera.

He then knocked on the door, but without identifying himself. He then moved to the side of the door, about 1.5 meters away. He waited 15 seconds before knocking on the door again. This time he shouted, “Sheriff’s Office, open the door!” He moved to the side again.

Less than 10 seconds later, he came back to the door and knocked again, announcing himself once more.

Fortson, 23, opened the door with his legally purchased gun in his right hand. She was at his side, pointing towards the ground. The deputy then immediately said “Stand back.” started shooting. Fortson fell backwards to the ground.

Only then did the deputy shout, “Drop the gun!”

The sheriff’s office said in a statement that the investigation revealed that “Mr. Fortson did not make any hostile attack movements and, therefore, the former deputy’s use of deadly force was not objectively reasonable.

“This tragic incident should never have happened,” Aden said in the statement. “The objective facts do not support the use of deadly force as an appropriate response to Mr. Fortson’s actions. Mr. Fortson did not commit any crime. By all accounts, he was an exceptional aviator and individual.

A telephone number could not immediately be found for the turnover. Email and phone messages seeking comment from his attorney John Whitaker were not immediately returned.

According to the sheriff’s report, after the shooting, as other deputies arrived to assist, Duran entered the breezeway outside the unit and punched a wall with his right fist, saying “F—.”

An investigator later asked him why he did that, and he responded that he thought he was “about to get shot.”

“It was, uh, just kind of letting it out which, you know, caused emotion and frustration,” he said, according to the internal report. “It was just one of those things where, you know, as I’m standing there thinking I’m about to get shot, I’m about to die,” he said.

“Once it was said and done, it was just all the emotion saying, ‘Oh my God, let it out,’” he said.

A criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is ongoing.

The apartment where Fortson lived is about eight miles from Hurlburt Field, where Fortson was assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron as a special missions Airman serving on an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship. One of his roles was to load the aircraft’s 30mm and 105mm guns during combat. He earned an Air Medal with Combat Device, which is typically awarded after 20 flights in a combat zone or for conspicuous gallantry or achievement during a single mission.

He had no criminal record.

Sabu Williams, president of the Okaloosa County NAACP, applauded Aden’s action.

“We appreciate what the internal investigation showed and what the sheriff has done so far,” Williams told the Associated Press. “We obviously don’t think this is the end.”

He said the NAACP has a good relationship with the Republican sheriff.

“Some of us might have wished that things had happened a lot quicker, but I know that because you have to be diligent,” Williams said.

From 2003 to 2014, Duran served in the U.S. Army, with a military career that included a combat deployment to Iraq in 2008, according to the sheriff’s investigative report into the Fortson shooting.

He worked in military intelligence, then moved into military law enforcement. He received an honorable discharge, the report states.

After serving in the military, Duran began a career in law enforcement in Oklahoma, where he worked as a police officer and canine officer from 2015 to 2019. He also served as a fire marshal for the Altus, Oklahoma Fire Department, circa 2016-2017. according to the report.

Duran joined the sheriff’s office in July 2019, but resigned two years later. He joined the sheriff’s office 11 months ago.

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