Close this search box.
Home Criminal News A video from a police officer's body camera reveals how quickly a Florida deputy shot and killed a US airman who answered his door with a gun pointed at the ground

A video from a police officer's body camera reveals how quickly a Florida deputy shot and killed a US airman who answered his door with a gun pointed at the ground


The details from the video contradict statements made by an attorney about the incident and also contradict the framing by the sheriff’s office.

Share Article:

Roger Fortson, Ben Crump

U.S. Airman Roger Fortson (left) in a U.S. Air Force photo, (right) civil rights lawyer Ben Crump (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

After Roger Fortson's family requested the release of body cam footage showing a deputy fatally shooting the 23-year-old airman in his apartment, authorities complied. This allowed the public to form their own conclusions based on the video instead of conflicting accounts from law enforcement and civil rights lawyer Ben Crump. Here's what we've learned.

Last Friday, Fortson was at home in his apartment in Fort Walton Beach when an unidentified deputy, now on leave and under investigation, knocked on his door in response to a disturbance call. While Crump stated Wednesday that the deputy went to the wrong apartment, Sheriff Eric Aden argued that the deputy knocked on the correct door, despite Fortson being alone and talking to his girlfriend on FaceTime at the time. responded to the wrong apartment, noted that Fortson was alone at the time and talking to his girlfriend on FaceTime, Sheriff Eric Aden pushed back by saying the deputy “knocked on the correct door.”

The video suggests that a witness directed the deputy to apartment 1401, which was also the number on the wall by the door.

"1401" visible on the wall outside of Roger Fortson's apartment.

“1401” visible on the wall outside of Roger Fortson’s apartment.

The body cam footage began with the deputy meeting a woman in a parking lot who reported hearing a disturbance in apartment 1401. The woman mentioned hearing yelling and cursing two weeks prior but wasn't certain of the exact source.

She then directed the deputy to take the elevator to the fourth floor, where he approached Fortson's apartment. He listened at the door for 15 to 18 seconds before knocking, without identifying himself as law enforcement. He remained out of view until Fortson opened the door.

Shortly after, Fortson mentioned something about the police. At that point, the deputy knocked again and identified himself as a member of the sheriff's office. He then knocked a third time before Fortson opened the door.

In an instant, the deputy told Fortson to step back and then shot him six times.

While Fortson did have a gun in his hand, which Crump said was legally owned, he did not raise it. The shots were fired, and Fortson fell to the ground in pain.

U.S. Airman Roger Fortson pictured a second before he was fatally shot.

U.S. Airman Roger Fortson pictured a second before he was fatally shot.

“Drop the gun,” the deputy repeated.

“It’s over there,” Fortson said. “I don’t have it.”

The deputy then informed dispatch that the suspect was no longer a threat and requested EMS.

The information obtained from the video contradicts the statements made by Crump about the shooting and the way the sheriff’s office portrayed the incident as a shooting of an “armed man.”

For example, this week in his statement, Crump mentioned that authorities went to the wrong apartment. If he meant that there was no disturbance at Fortson’s place, he might be right, but the deputy did go to the door specified by the witness: 1401. The video did not show the deputy “bursting through the door,” as described by Crump's firm. Fortson opened the door and was shot multiple times almost immediately after.

When the sheriff’s office issued a statement on the shooting, they described Fortson as an “armed man.” However, the video revealed that while Fortson did have a gun when he answered the door, it was not raised or pointed at the deputy. The weapon was pointing down at the floor. According to attorney Crump, Fortson was in his own home and legally owned the firearm.

Crump’s law firm argued that Fortson, like any other law-abiding citizen, acted out of concern by answering the door after hearing a knock and not seeing anyone through the peephole.

Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden has stated that, apart from the deputy’s announcements, there is reason to believe that Fortson was aware of the presence of law enforcement outside.

“Mr. Fortson’s comments indicate that he did recognize that it was law enforcement at the door and he came to the door with a firearm in his hand,” Aden said, apparently referring to a part of the body cam video where the word “police” is heard amidst otherwise inaudible muttering.

For his part, Crump criticized the use of the term “armed man” for falsely implying that Fortson posed a threat simply because he legally possessed a firearm while answering the door.

At this point, it is in dispute whether Fortson was actually aware that the person who knocked on the door was a deputy.

Fortson’s family has claimed that authorities must have gone to the “wrong apartment” because no one else was there at the time, so there could not have been a disturbance. Instead, Fortson was on FaceTime with his girlfriend.

Crump separately shared a video of Fortson’s girlfriend recording the FaceTime call after the shooting.

As Fortson lay dying on the floor, he said: “I can’t breathe.”

Shortly after, when other deputies arrived at the shooting scene, the deputy who fired the shots said, “We’re good, we’re good.”

“He had a gun as soon as he opened that door,” the deputy said.

Law enforcement could be heard instructing anyone else in the apartment to come out and make themselves known. No one did.

At least one deputy could be heard saying “clear.”

Besides determining whether the deputy reasonably used deadly force, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is likely to investigate whether Fortson’s apartment was the actual location of the reported disturbance. To do so, examining the person who called 911 and evaluating their reasons for doing so seems necessary.

Crump said to Law&Crime that the killing was an “execution” and a violation of Fortson’s constitutional rights. He added that there’s “no question that the officer acted with impulse and a lack of proper training when he shot and killed Roger within seconds of the door opening.”

Crump mentioned that when Roger opened his door and saw the sheriff’s deputy, he had his gun pointed to the ground with one hand and held his other hand up to signal he was not going to shoot. Only after Roger’s body was riddled with bullets did the officer tell him to drop his gun. Even after being shot, Roger intended to comply with the officer’s commands to drop his weapon, saying with his final breaths, ‘It’s over there. I don’t have it.'”

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Criminal Time is a media organization, we provide regular reports, crime bulletins, crime scene photos, analysis, data, investigations and crime related news.

Our work is costly and high risk. Please support our mission investigating organized crime.

By topic

By country

By person

Criminal Time

© 2024 Criminal Time.

Powered by WordPress VIP