Florida Sheriff’s Office Fires Deputy Who Fatally Shot Senior Airman Roger Fortson – RedState

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

Bodycam footage of the encounter shows the officer shooting Fortson, 23, multiple times after he answered the door. Fortson was holding a legally owned firearm in his right hand that was pointed at the ground when he answered his door.

A sheriff’s internal affairs investigation released Friday concluded that, “Mr. Fortson did not make any hostile, attacking movements, and therefore, the former deputy’s use of deadly force was not objectively reasonable.” Outside law enforcement experts have also said that an officer cannot shoot only because a possible suspect is holding a gun if there is no threat.

“This tragic incident should have never occurred,” 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 airman and individual.”

No criminal charges have been filed, but a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation is ongoing.

Duran, 39, told investigators that when Forston answered his door, he saw aggression in his eyes. “I’m standing there thinking I’m about to get shot, I’m about to die,” the officer said. “It is him or me at this point and I need to, I need to act as opposed to react.”

Ben Crump, the attorney representing Fortson’s family, characterized the former officer’s actions as “not just negligent, they were criminal.”

Duran was hired by the Oklahoma police department in 2015 after being discharged from the military. He later worked with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office starting in July 2019.

The incident started with a domestic violence call. The woman who made the call told authorities after the shooting that she heard a woman’s voice coming from the apartment. “Before it was just, usually banter back and forth,” but that on the day of the shooting, it was worse.

But Fortson, who had no criminal record, lived alone and had no guests that afternoon. He was on a video call with his girlfriend, who told investigators they had not been arguing. She said Fortson was playing a video game.

An apartment complex manager called the sheriff’s office at 4:24 p.m. and Duran arrived three minutes later. He met the manager in the parking lot and she directed him to Fortson’s fourth-floor apartment, telling him there are frequent arguments, body camera video shows.

The footage shows Duran knocking on the door and announcing himself. However, he moves out of view of the peephole, meaning Fortson could not see him. He was in the middle of a Facetime call with his girlfriend at the time. He asked who was at the door, but did not seem to hear the officer. He picked up his gun and answered, at which point Duran shot him.

Duran can be heard telling Forston to drop the gun after the shooting. “It’s over there,” Fortson said. He succumbed to his injuries later at the hospital. The authorities are still investigating the incident, and it is not clear whether there will be criminal charges.

In a press release, Sheriff Aden explained the reason for Duran’s firing, noting that “in this case, the former deputy did not meet the standard of objective reasonableness and his use of control to resistance was excessive.”