Florida deputy fired after fatal shooting of U.S. Air Force airman

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Florida deputy fired after fatal shooting of U.S. Air Force airman

Hundreds of friends, family and teammates gather for Senior Airman Roger Fortson’s funeral service at Hurlburt Field, Florida, May 20, 2024. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Stephens

1 of 2 | Hundreds of friends, family and teammates gather for Senior Airman Roger Fortson’s funeral service at Hurlburt Field, Florida, May 20, 2024. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Stephens

June 1 (UPI) — The Florida deputy who last month shot and killed a U.S. Air Force airman while responding to a 911 call has been fired, authorities confirmed this week.

“The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has terminated Deputy Eddie Duran following the completion of an administrative internal affairs investigation into the death of Roger Fortson on May 3,” the agency said in a statement issued Friday.

“The administrative investigation determined the deputy’s use of deadly force was not objectively reasonable and therefore violated agency policy.”

Fortson was killed May 3 after he was shot by deputies seconds after opening his apartment door while holding a legal firearm he owned.

A separate criminal investigation being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into the shooting remains ongoing.

The sheriff’s office investigation found Duran violated one of the department’s use of force policies.

“Deadly force shall only be used when the officer reasonably believes that the action is in defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in defense of any person in imminent danger of serious physical injury,” reads the policy, which is cited in the office’s report.

“The objective facts of the administrative investigation 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 under OSCO’s policy.”

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump has contended officers were at the wrong apartment when responding to the disturbance call.

“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,” Crump, who represents the family, said in a statement issued Friday evening.

“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.”

One week after the fatal shooting, Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden shared the body camera footage of the interaction, which shows a sheriff’s deputy knocking on the apartment door and twice announcing it was law enforcement.

“This tragic incident should have never occurred,” Aden said in the department’s statement Friday.

“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.

“Since the tragedy occurred, our office has been fully accountable and transparent in its compliance with statutory requirements, providing numerous public statements, making accessible the available body-worn camera footage and other related records, meeting with Mr. Forston’s family and legal counsel, and communicating openly with the U.S. Air Force and our community at-large. We continue to wish Mr. Fortson’s family comfort and peace.”

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