Black Airman Shot & Killed By Deputies Who Entered Wrong Apartment: Lawyer

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A Black U.S. Air Force airman was shot and killed by Florida deputies who an attorney says burst into the wrong apartment, PEOPLE reports.

According to civil rights attorney Ben Crump, Senior Airman Roger Fortson, 23, was on a Facetime call with a woman when he was fatally shot on Friday (May 3) by deputies at his off-base apartment in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

The woman, who hasn’t been identified, said Fortson was alone in his apartment at the time of the shooting, according to Crump. Fortson heard a knock and asked who was at the door, to which he didn’t receive a response, the woman said. Later, the woman said Fortson heard a louder knock, but he didn’t see anyone in the peephole of his apartment.

The woman said Fortson grew concerned and retrieved his gun, which he legally owned. While in the living room, deputies burst through the door of Fortson’s apartment, saw he was armed, and shot him six times, Crump said.

Fortson fell to the ground, saying “I can’t breathe,” the woman witness said, per Crump.

The airman was taken to a hospital, where he later died, Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden confirmed. The deputy who shot Fortson was placed on leave amid an investigation into the incident.

The woman who was on Facetime with Fortson said she believes deputies entered the wrong apartment because the airman wasn’t causing a disturbance.

“The circumstances surrounding Roger’s death raise serious questions that demand immediate answers from authorities, especially considering the alarming witness statement that the police entered the wrong apartment,” Crump said in a statement.

“We are calling for transparency in the investigation into Roger’s death and the immediate release of body cam video to the family,” the attorney added. “His family and the public deserve to know what occurred in the moments leading up to this tragedy.”

In a statement, Aden asked for the “community’s patience as [they] work to understand the facts that resulted in this tragic event.” The sheriff said deputies reacted in self-defense after encountering an armed man as they were responding to a disturbance report.

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