The sheriff disputes the claim that a deputy went to the wrong unit

The Independent

OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida sheriff publicly released bodycam footage from a deputy who fatally shot a Black airman in his home last week – and disputed claims from the victim’s family that the deputy had gone to the wrong apartment.
Crump and Fortson’s mother described him as a patriot who respected authority and hoped to buy his mother and younger siblings a house.
The sheriff, who met with Fortson’s family shortly before his news conference, said he asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Division to handle the criminal investigation, as is required.
“What we do know at this time is that the deputy did announce himself, not once but twice,” Aden said.
The deputy knocked on the correct door, he did not cover the peephole or otherwise obscured its view in any way.”
But Fortson’s family reiterated their belief that authorities went to the wrong door.
“The deputy shot the man, who later succumbed to his injuries,” said the sheriff.
Within seconds of the apartment’s door opening, the deputy says “Step back” and is then seen firing his weapon.

NEUTRAL

Florida’s Okaloopa County. — A Florida sheriff openly shared bodycam footage of a deputy who shot and killed a Black airman in his home last week, refuting the victim’s family’s assertion that the deputy had gone to the wrong apartment.

A lawyer for the family of the 23-year-old airman had demanded the video’s public release, claiming the victim’s girlfriend was FaceTiming with the deputy and that she thought he was assigned to the wrong unit. On Thursday, Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden displayed the footage during a press conference.

During a press conference earlier on Thursday, attorney Ben Crump revealed that the victim’s family had named him as senior airman Roger Fortson, who is currently on active duty. According to his mother, Crump and Fortson were patriotic, deferential to authority, and hoping to purchase a home for his mother and younger siblings.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement Division has been tasked with conducting the criminal investigation, as required by law, according to the sheriff, who met with Fortson’s family just prior to his news conference. He stated that “no determination has been made as to whether or not the deputy’s actions were justified” while that investigation is still ongoing. “Administrative leave has been granted to the deputy.

“At this point, we are aware that the deputy made two announcements about himself,” Aden stated. “Mr. According to Fortson’s remarks, he did recognize that law enforcement was at the door and that he had brought a gun with him. The deputy knocked on the right door without covering the peephole or obstructing the view in any other way. “.

The family of Fortson, however, reaffirmed their conviction that the authorities went to the wrong place.

Following the release of the video, Fortson’s family released a statement saying, “We remain adamant that the police had the wrong apartment as Roger was on the phone with his girlfriend for a substantial amount of time leading up to the shooting, and no one else was in the apartment.”.

What’s captured on bodycam video.

In a previous statement, Aden stated that deputies were called to an apartment last Friday, where they found “a disturbance in progress.”.

“After recognizing himself as law enforcement and coming across a gun-wielding 23-year-old man, the deputy responded in self-defense,” the sheriff stated.

The sheriff stated, “The deputy shot the man, who later died from his injuries.”. Authorities have not yet identified the deputy who was shot.

The video from the May 3 bodycam starts at about 4:28 p.m. m. with a deputy showing up at what looks to be a residential building.

The deputy is overheard being informed by a woman at the complex that there was a disturbance in apartment 1401 and that it was “getting out of hand.”. “.

The same woman reports to the deputy that she heard yells and “a slap” when she was outside the apartment earlier, but she wasn’t sure where they came from.

Three knocks on a door later, the deputy rides the elevator to the fourth floor. In the video, we can see the apartment number “1401.”. “Sheriff’s office, open the door,” he says twice, announcing himself. “The video from inside the apartment shows no sounds at all.

Shortly after the apartment door opens, the deputy is heard ordering someone to “step back” and can then be seen pulling a gun. With his hands down and what looks to be a lowered gun in his right hand, Fortson is seen standing at the door. The deputy fires, and he instantly falls to the ground. Five shots are audible at minimum.

Twice the deputy yells, “Drop the gun,” as Fortson lies on the ground. “It’s over there,” Fortson is heard saying, and then “I don’t have it.”. ****.

Fortson stays on the ground as the deputy keeps pointing his gun at him and orders him not to move. The deputy keeps aiming his firearm at Fortson as he makes an EMS call.

Based on police dispatch calls obtained by CNN affiliate WEAR, deputies informed dispatch that Fortson had been shot six times, receiving multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and one exit wound.

Following the release of the video, Fortson’s family stated, “It is very troubling that the deputy gave no verbal commands and shot multiple times within a split second of the door being opened, killing Roger.”. “.”.

The statement went on, “Given that the officer failed to order Roger to drop the weapon before firing, was the officer trained to issue verbal warnings? Did the officer attempt to carry out life-saving measures? Was the officer trained to deal with law-abiding citizens who possess legal firearms?”.

footage from a FaceTime call that was recorded during production.

Almost four minutes of the FaceTime call that Crump claims Fortson was having with his girlfriend when he was shot were also made public later on Thursday.

The man, who is probably Fortson, is heard groaning and saying, “I can’t breathe,” in the video, which appears to be the ceiling of an apartment. “Do not move,” a second man, who is probably the deputy, orders him. Cease your movement. “.

At that point, the deputy can be heard saying, “Man, hold on, an ambulance is on its way.”. Stay still. “.”.

The deputy then says, “We’re good,” presumably to others. After opening the door, he had a gun. The deputy can be heard yelling, though most of it is muffled.

Later, another voice can be heard describing Fortson’s injuries. They say, “We have three gunshot wounds, one exit,” and then another voice adds, “Yeah, he’s shot up.”. “.”.

Finally, it is heard that Fortson has sustained six gunshot wounds. At the hospital, Fortson was declared deceased.

Fortson’s family attorney claims that he was playing video games.

Crump and Fortson’s mother characterized him as a responsible young man and a patriot who had long dreamed of joining the US Air Force during their earlier news conference on Thursday.

“To the department of sheriffs who took my gift, dot. I need you all to be honest about my son. Fortson’s mother said, “I need you to fix his reputation.”.

“I am aware that my son did not harm any of you. I’m sorry if he scared you or if you weren’t trained correctly, she said. “Nevertheless, please restore my baby’s honor. “.

The shooting happened at the airman’s off-base home, according to an Air Force statement stating that Fortson reported for active duty in November 2019 and was assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron.

Pentagon spokesman Maj. Lloyd Austin, the US Secretary of Defense, is “closely” monitoring the shooting reports. Gen. said Pat Ryder on Thursday.

ALSO SEE: Okaloosa County deputy fires gun at patrol car with person inside after mistaking acorn for gunshot | VIDEO.

Before the shooting, according to Crump, the 23-year-old had been home for roughly 30 minutes and was playing video games.

According to Crump, who cited Fortson’s girlfriend, Fortson heard two distinct knocks on the door and grabbed his gun when no one was visible through the peephole. It was legally owned, according to Crump, by Fortson.

According to the girlfriend, there was no disturbance at the apartment when law enforcement arrived, according to Crump. Crump mentioned Fortson’s girlfriend in support of his claim that Fortson was by himself at the time.

On Thursday night, Crump said to CNN’s Jake Tapper, “(Fortson) was on the phone with his girlfriend in the apartment by himself with his dog.”. “The apartment they were in was incorrect. “.

Shooting brings up previous events.

The shooting is similar to other incidents in recent years where a Black man or woman was shot and killed by law enforcement in their home, even though the specifics are still unknown.

A former Dallas police officer who had shot Botham Jean dead in his apartment the year before was given a 10-year prison term in 2019. Living on the floor below Jean’s apartment, the officer claimed to have seen Jean inside her apartment when she approached, even though she was off duty and still in uniform.

That same year, Atatiana Jefferson was shot through her bedroom window by a Fort Worth police officer who was responding to a report of what the police thought to be a break-in.

The former Fort Worth police officer was given a sentence in 2022 that included almost 12 years in jail.

scroll to top