Fri, Jun 14, 2024
Family of US Airman Roger Fortson respond to firing of deputy

Family of US Airman Roger Fortson respond to firing of deputy

  • PublishedJune 3, 2024

Deputy Eddie Duran was fired from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department on June 1.

ATLANTA — The family of an Atlanta Air Force airman killed by a sheriff’s deputy in Florida gathered Monday morning to respond to the termination of the deputy accused of firing the fatal shot. 

On June 1, 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. 

“That’s not justice for me,” his mother, Chantemekki Fortson, said. “Take his credentials, take his pension, bring charges against him. You are throwing me a bone, and I’m not okay with that.”

“He thought he wasn’t going to make it home to his family. Well, this one [Roger Fortson] didn’t. That was his sister’s birthday weekend,” his mother added.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump joined Fortson’s family at the press conference at Mt. Zion Second Baptist Church in Atlanta

“He said, ‘I can’t breathe,'” said Crump. Fortson’s mother broke out into tears; attorneys and family members comforted her as those were some of his last words in his final moments on Earth. 

“She still can’t believe it. She still is in disbelief that her son is dead. She has said from the beginning that nobody is going to stain his reputation because he was too good of a person,” the attorney said. “Even after the termination, there still appears to her to be an effort to stain his name.”

“This was criminal,” said Crump. “This isn’t fair…If roles were reversed, it would not take this long to bring charges.”

Crump read the language in the report that led to the firing of the deputy, where he said that the sheriff said that the “objective facts of the administrative investigation concluded that Mr. Fortson did not make any hostile attack in movements and therefore the former deputy’s use of deadly force was not objectively reasonable under the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office policy.”

The full report included an interview with the person the airman was on the phone with when the incident happened. That person told the sheriff that the two did not argue while on the phone. Crump also reiterated that Roger Fortson and his dog were the only two in the apartment despite reports of a physical altercation. 

“He was still complying with the officer even after he shot him six times. While Roger was on the ground dying, he was still trying to comply,” Crump said.

Fortson’s mother concluded the news conference with statements about her son’s character. 

“He was somebody to the whole world. It’s a lot of people grieving him,” she added. 

On Monday, Crump said that attorneys are still waiting for unredacted video and unredacted audio. The video released from the sheriff’s office appeared to be heavily edited, and the report had some redactions. 

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.” 

Attorney Ben Crump issued the following statement on Duran’s firing on Friday:

“The firing of the officer who shot and killed Roger Fortson is a step forward, but it is not full justice for Roger and his family. The actions of this deputy were not just negligent; they were criminal. As we’ve stated from the beginning, and as echoed today by Sheriff Aden, Roger was an exceptional airman who did absolutely nothing to warrant being gunned down in his own home. While the criminal investigation is still ongoing, we fully anticipate charges to be filed against this officer. The video footage provides damning proof that this was a brutal and senseless killing of a young man who was simply enjoying time alone with his dog while video chatting with his girlfriend. 

Just as we did for Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, and Breonna Taylor, we will continue to fight for full justice and accountability for Roger Fortson, as well as every other innocent Black man and woman gunned down by law enforcement in the presumed safety of their own home.”

Read the full report from the Florida sheriff’s office below.

Fortson was from Atlanta and graduated from McNair High School in DeKalb County. Following graduation, he enlisted in the Air Force, where he was based at the Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field near Fort Walton Beach.

You can watch Monday’s full press conference below: 

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