New details about officer who killed US Airman have been released

Devoun Cetoute
Miami Herald

The Florida deputy responsible for killing a U.S. Air Force airman in early May was fired from his job after an investigation found he violated the sheriff’s office policy.

On Friday, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office announced that deputy Eddie Duran was terminated due to the results of an internal affairs investigation. It found Duran did not have a reason to use deadly force when he shot and killed Roger Fortson in Fortson’s apartment.

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

On May 3, Duran was called to an apartment complex after a possible “physical disturbance” was reported. After being told the unit number, the deputy proceeded to the apartment.

What happened next, which was recorded on the deputy’s body cam, led to Fortson’s death. Since the shooting, the exact events that led to Duran shooting Fortson were contested. At the time, his lawyer said the deputy stormed the wrong apartment while the sheriff’s office said otherwise.

On Friday, the sheriff’s office also released the “objective facts” of what occurred as part of the internal affairs investigation.

When Doran arrived at Fortson’s door he listened for sounds of a possible disturbance, the sheriff’s office said. Hearing nothing, he knocked without announcing he was a deputy with the sheriff’s office.

Doran said he heard “something to the effect of it’s the (expletive) police,” the sheriff’s office said. Doran knocked loudly two more times, this time announcing he was with the sheriff’s office.

When Forston opened the door, Doran saw him holding a gun in his right hand. The gun was pointed at the ground “sufficiently enough for the former deputy to clearly see the rear face of the rear sight,” according to the sheriff’s office’s account.

In its finding, the sheriff’s office concluded Fortson did not physically resist in any way and did not point the gun at Doran, which was seen on earlier released body camera footage.

Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Fortson’s family, said firing Doran is not enough.

““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,” Crump said. “The actions of this deputy were not just negligent, they were criminal.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is still conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting.

“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,” Crump said.

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