Florida lawmaker who killed US airman fired following internal investigation

A sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed Florida airman In his apartment, earlier this month, was shot, authorities announced Friday.

Deputy Eddie Duran was “terminated” following an investigation by internal affairs, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office reported in a news release.

The investigation determined that Duran’s “use of deadly force” in the shooting death of Senior Airman Roger Fortson “was not objectively reasonable and therefore violated agency policy,” it said. the sheriff’s office.

“Firing the officer who shot Roger Fortson is a step forward, but it is not complete justice for Roger and his family. This deputy’s actions were not only negligent, they were criminal,” family attorney Ben Crump said in a statement. a statement Friday evening. “While the criminal investigation is still ongoing, we fully anticipate that charges will be filed against this officer. The video footage provides overwhelming evidence that this was a brutal and senseless murder of a young man who was simply spending time alone with his dog while video chatting with his girlfriend.”

May 3, Fortson, 23 years old was in his apartment in the Florida Panhandle town of Fort Walton Beach when he was fatally shot by Duran. Fortson was based at the Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, about five miles from his apartment.

Sheriff’s investigators determined Duran was initially dispatched for an “ongoing physical disturbance” at the Fortson apartment complex, the sheriff’s office said in its news release Friday.

Chantemekki Fortson, mother of U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Roger Fortson, holds a photo of her son during a news conference regarding his death, with his family and attorney Ben Crump, May 9, 2024, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

AP Photo/Gérald Herbert

The sheriff’s office says that when Duran arrived at the complex, a complex employee directed him to Unit 1401, where the employee said it was “the location of the disturbance,” and added that “there had recently been unreported disturbances at or around the complex.” same apartment,” the sheriff’s office reported.

A previously released statement from the family contradicts that claim, however, saying Fortson was on a FaceTime call with his girlfriend before the shooting and that the deputy was directed to the wrong apartment.

Body camera video released by the sheriff’s office earlier this month showed a deputy knocking on Fortson’s apartment door and announcing he was with the sheriff’s office. When the door opens, the deputy yells at Fortson to back off.

In the bodycam video, the deputy strikes first without making himself known. About 30 seconds later, he knocks again, saying he is at the sheriff’s office and needs to open the door. He knocks and shows up about 10 seconds later. Seconds after Fortson opened the door, the deputy shot Fortson, who was holding what appeared to be a handgun at his side.

Crump previously said during a news conference that Fortson was on FaceTime with his girlfriend and went to retrieve his legally possessed gun after hearing a knock at the door and not hearing who was there.

Crump’s company also previously released video of the FaceTime call that appears to have started after the shooting, showing the ceiling of Fortson’s apartment.

“I can’t breathe,” Fortson says in the video while groaning.

Sheriff’s investigators say that when Fortson opened the door, Duran saw Fortson “holding a firearm in his right hand,” but that the gun “was pointed toward the ground enough that the former deputy could clearly see the rear face of the rise. “

Fortson “did not physically resist ‘Duran’ in any way, and the investigation concluded that Mr. Forston did not point his gun in the former deputy’s direction,” the report said Friday. sheriff’s office.

Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden said in a statement Friday that “this tragic incident should never have happened. 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. “Obviously he was an exceptional aviator and individual.”

Alex Sundby contributed to this report.

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