Florida police officer terminated for shooting, killing Black airman

The Florida deputy who killed Roger Fortson, a Black U.S. Air Force airman, has been fired from his position at the Okaloosa County Sherriff’s Office on Friday.

Deputy Eddie Duran shot Fortson, 23, six times on May 3. Body camera footage of the shooting shows the deputy shooting Fortson multiple times within seconds of the active-duty airman opening his apartment door.

The sheriff’s office opened an administrative internal affairs investigation into the death and determined Duran’s use of deadly force was “not objectively reasonable and therefore violated agency policy.”

“This tragic incident should have never occurred,” Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden said in a 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.”

The investigation is separate from the active criminal investigation that is ongoing with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the sheriff’s office said in a release.

Fortson was holding his legally owned firearm at the time. Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing Fortson’s family, said the airman grabbed the gun after being unable to identify who was at the door.

Duran was responding to a call of a domestic disturbance, but family members say he went to the wrong apartment. Fortson was alone in his home.

The sheriff’s office noted that its deputies are authorized to use the amount of force that is “objectively reasonable to perform their duties.” Deadly force can only be used when the officer reasonably believes the action is in defense of human life, the release noted.

Police said Duran met with an apartment complex employee who identified Unit 1401 as the location of the disturbance. Duran approached the apartment and listened for any noise of disturbance. Hearing none, he knocked without announcing. Duran said he heard “something to the effect of it’s the f—ing police.”

Duran knocked twice more and said “Sherriff’s Office” both times. When Fortson opened the door, the firearm was pointed at the ground.

“The former deputy confirmed Mr. Fortson did not physically resist him in any way, and the investigation concluded that Mr. Fortson did not point the gun in the former deputy’s direction,” the police said.

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