June 12th, 2024

Florida sheriff’s office fires deputy who fatally shot Black airman at home

By Terry Spencer, The Associated Press on May 31, 2024.

A Florida sheriff on Friday fired a deputy who fatally shot a Black airman at his home while holding a handgun pointed to the ground.

Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden 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 outside Fortson’s door, he stood silently for 20 seconds outside and listened, but no voices inside are heard on his body camera.

He then pounded on the door, but didn’t identify himself. He then moved to the side of the door, about 5 feet away (1.5 meters). He waited 15 seconds before pounding on the door again. This time he yelled, “Sheriff’s office – open the door!” He again moved to the side.

Less then 10 seconds later, he moved back in front of the door and pounded again, announcing himself once more.

Fortson, 23, opened the door, his legally purchased gun in his right hand. It was at his side, pointing to the ground. The deputy said “Step back” then immediately began firing. Fortson fell backward onto the floor.

Only then did the deputy yell, “Drop the gun!”

Aden said Duran was wrong to fire his weapon.

“This tragic incident should have never occurred,” Aden said in his 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 airman and individual.”

No phone number could be immediately found for Duran.

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

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