Family of Black airman shot by police demand "full justice" and call for charges

Washington DC - A lawyer and the family of a Black airman in the US Air Force who was shot dead last month by police in Florida called on Monday for the officer to face charges.

A lawyer and the family of a Black airman in the US Air Force who was shot dead last month by police in Florida called on Monday for the officer to face charges.
A lawyer and the family of a Black airman in the US Air Force who was shot dead last month by police in Florida called on Monday for the officer to face charges.  © REUTERS

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has represented the families of other African American victims of police violence, welcomed the termination of the deputy but said he should face "full justice."

"Full justice would be him being charged for the killing of senior airman Roger Fortson," Crump said at a press conference with Fortson's mother.

"That's what his mother wants. That's what his family wants. They want full justice. They don't want partial justice," Crump said. "Termination was the first step, but we continue our fervent call for... charges in this matter."

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Deputy Eddie Duran was terminated by the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office last week following an internal affairs investigation that determined his "use of deadly force was not objectively reasonable."

Duran had been dispatched to the apartment complex where Fortson lived on May 3 to respond to reports of an "in-progress physical disturbance," according to the sheriff's office.

Police officer who killed Roger Fortson fired by Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office

Roger Fortson was immediately shot by police after answering his door last month.
Roger Fortson was immediately shot by police after answering his door last month.  © REUTERS

The 23-year-old Fortson, a licensed gun owner who was alone in the apartment at the time, answered the door holding a handgun that was pointing at the ground.

Fortson, who was on FaceTime with his girlfriend, a nurse, when the encounter took place, was immediately shot six times by the deputy.

"The former deputy confirmed Mr. Fortson did not physically resist him in any way, and the investigation concluded that Mr. Forston did not point the gun in the former deputy's direction," the sheriff's office said.

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It said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was pursuing an active criminal investigation into the shooting.

"This tragic incident should have never occurred," Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden said in a statement. "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," Aden said. "By all accounts, he was an exceptional airman and individual."

The US was rocked by protests in 2020 following the videotaped 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: REUTERS

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