Black Airman Fatally Shot by Officers in Florida Apartment Mix-Up

Black Airman Fatally Shot by Officers in Florida Apartment Mix-Up

Officers reacting to a report of a disturbance at an apartment complex in Florida went into the wrong unit and fatally shot a Black U.S. Air Force airman who was home alone and carrying a gun, the man’s family lawyer said Wednesday.

Roger Fortson, a 23-year-old senior airman out of Hurlburt Field’s Special Operations Wing, was in his off-base apartment in Fort Walton Beach on May 3 when the killing happened.

In a statement, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump said that Fortson was on a FaceTime call with a woman at the time of the call.

Crump said that the woman, who he did not name, told him that Fortson was in his apartment by himself when he heard a knock on the door. He asked who was there, but no one answered. Crump said that Fortson heard a stronger knock a few minutes later, but when he looked through the peephole, he didn’t see anyone.

The woman told Crump that Fortson was worried and went to get his gun, which Crump said he legally held.

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Crump’s statement says that as Fortson walked back through his living room, officers broke down the door, saw that he was armed, and shot him six times. Bullock said the woman said Fortson was on the ground and crying out, “I can’t breathe.”

The police said Fortson died in a hospital. The deputy who shot the person was put on administrative leave while the incident is looked into.

According to Crump’s statement, the woman said Fortson wasn’t bothering her during their FaceTime call and thinks the cops must have gone to the wrong apartment.

The sheriff’s office said in a statement last week that an officer who went to the apartment complex after getting a call about a disturbance acted in self-defense when he saw an armed man. It wasn’t clear from the office what kind of disturbance deputies were reacting to or who had called them.

The sheriff’s office also wouldn’t say right away who the responding cops were or what race they were. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the local State Attorney’s Office said earlier this week that they would look into the killing.

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