Deputy in Florida who shot and killed U.S. airman dismissed following sheriff’s probe

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office announced on Friday that the Florida sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a U.S. Air Force airman in response to a disturbance report has been terminated from his position.

The sheriff’s office statement revealed that an internal investigation into the shooting incident on May 3 concluded that Deputy Eddie Duran’s use of deadly force, which resulted in the tragic death of Senior Airman Roger Fortson, was deemed unreasonable.

Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden stated in the office’s official statement that the facts do not align with the use of deadly force as a suitable response to Mr. Fortson’s actions.

Unfortunately, Duran was unavailable for comment on Friday.

The Florida Deputy Sheriffs Association, represented by A. Keith Dean, executive director, has stated via email that they are representing Duran. They have not provided any immediate comment on the matter.

Fortson, who was only 23 years old, tragically lost his life when he innocently opened the door to his apartment in Fort Walton Beach. It was Duran who had knocked on his door and announced that he was a law enforcement officer. Little did Fortson know that this encounter would end in such a devastating manner.

According to the office, Duran was called to the scene of a disturbance in progress. Upon arrival, an employee of the complex guided him to the specific unit where Fortson resided.

According to the investigative report, a neighbor who witnessed the incident called the sheriff’s dispatcher and reported hearing a heated argument between a man and a woman at the unit. The neighbor mentioned that it sounded like the argument was becoming physical, and that this was not the first time such loud arguments had been heard in the vicinity of the apartment.

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The office said that Duran knocked three times without announcing his identity, each time saying “sheriff’s office.”

As the front door swung open, Fortson and the airman found themselves standing face to face. The office revealed that the airman had a gun by his side, pointing downwards, yet he made no attempt to aim it or resist the deputy. However, without hesitation, Duran discharged his weapon.

“Mr. Fortson did not commit any crime,” Aden stated firmly. “According to everyone who knew him, he was not only an outstanding airman but also an exceptional individual.”

Fortson passed away at a hospital.

During a press conference on May 9th, the family of Fortson, along with their attorneys, revealed that he had been alone at home and engaged in a video call with his girlfriend prior to the tragic shooting incident. They explained that he had mistaken someone for attempting to break into his apartment and strongly believe that the deputy responded to the wrong unit.

According to a statement from the sheriff’s office, it was initially reported that Duran acted in self-defense following the shooting.

The office’s internal investigation has revealed a clear violation of agency policy by Duran.

According to the office, Mr. Fortson’s actions were not aggressive or threatening, and therefore, the use of deadly force by the former deputy was deemed unreasonable based on OSCO’s policy.

Fortson worked at Hurlburt Field Air Force base in Okaloosa County. His family has hired prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who has not yet provided a comment.

The shooting is still under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

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