Black airman killed by police entering wrong apartment as lawyer slams "excessive" force

Washington DC - A Black airman in the US Air Force was shot and killed in an "excessive" use of force by a Florida sheriff's deputy who burst into the wrong apartment, a lawyer retained by his family said Thursday.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump (pictured), who has represented the families of other African American victims of police violence, demanded a full investigation into the May 3 death of Roger Fortson.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump (pictured), who has represented the families of other African American victims of police violence, demanded a full investigation into the May 3 death of Roger Fortson.  © Robyn Beck / AFP

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has represented the families of other African American victims of police violence, demanded a full investigation into the May 3 death of Roger Fortson.

Sheriff Eric Aden of the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office said the deputy was responding to reports of a "disturbance in progress" when the shooting occurred.

But Crump, at a press conference, said, "It wasn't Roger's apartment that had a disturbance."

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"He was in his apartment, his sanctuary, his castle, where he had every right to be, and they forcefully entered into his apartment," Crump said, in an "excessive" use of force.

Crump said the 23-year-old Fortson was on FaceTime with his girlfriend, a nurse, when the shooting took place.

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Gianna Floyd (bottom c.), the daughter of George Floyd, holds a pen used by U.S. President Joe Biden (l.) to sign an executive order enacting further police reform in the East Room of the White House on May 25, 2022.
Gianna Floyd (bottom c.), the daughter of George Floyd, holds a pen used by U.S. President Joe Biden (l.) to sign an executive order enacting further police reform in the East Room of the White House on May 25, 2022.  © Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/AFP Anna Moneymaker / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

She "heard everything," starting with an "aggressive banging" at the door, he said.

"She talked about how he said 'Who is it?' and he heard no response," Crump said, adding that Fortson looked through a peephole but didn't see anyone.

"He went and retrieved his legally registered gun," Crump said, adding that he was walking back when the door opened.

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"And then she said that she just heard shots," he said. "He was shot six times."

Crump demanded a transparent investigation to "do whatever justice will allow for a good man."

In his statement, Aden said a deputy had responded to "a call of a disturbance in progress where he encountered an armed man."

"The deputy shot the man, who later succumbed to his injuries," Aden said, adding that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and state attorney's office would conduct an investigation.

The US was rocked by protests in 2020 following the filmed murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Floyd's death revived scrutiny of race relations and sparked calls for police reform.

Cover photo: Robyn Beck / AFP

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