Chantimekki Fortson, mother of Roger Fortson, a US Air Force airman, holds a photo of her son during a news conference regarding his death as their attorney, Ben Crump, comforts her.

A Black airman was killed by police responding to a disturbance call in his apartment building.Senior Airman Roger Fortson, 23, was shot six times by a Florida deputy in his home last week.A witness believes the officer was at the wrong apartment, the Fortson family’s attorney said.

An attorney for the family of a Florida special operations airman who was shot and killed in his home by local police said Wednesday that officers responding to a reported disturbance may have entered the wrong apartment.

Senior Airman Roger Fortson, 23, who was assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, was alone in his apartment May 3 when police burst through the door and fatally shot him six times, according to Ben Crump, an attorney representing Fortson’s family.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office was responding to a disturbance between a man and woman in the apartment building, and deputies shot Fortson, who was Black, multiple times in the chest, according to police radio communications.

“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. “The narrative released by law enforcement, which falsely suggests that Roger posed a threat, is deeply troubling and inconsistent with the details provided by that witness: Roger was home alone, causing no disturbance, when his life was tragically cut short by law enforcement.”

This photo provided by the US Air Force shows Senior Airman Roger Fortson.

The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the attorney’s claims. The sheriff’s office recently came under scrutiny after one of its deputies resigned following an internal investigation last year of an incident in which he fired his weapon multiple times at a detained suspect after mistaking the sound of an acorn hitting the roof of his patrol vehicle as a gunshot, reported.

Fortson lived in an off-base residence, and his special operations squadron at Hurlburt Field in the Florida panhandle flies AC-130J Ghostrider gunships.

Crump said there was no disturbance and that Fortson was home alone on a video call with another person, who reported the airman heard a knock on the door.

Fortson, according to the witness, asked, Who is it?” But he didn’t receive an answer. After a subsequent “aggressive” second knock and seeing no one through the peephole, Fortson grabbed his legally owned gun, Crump detailed.

As Fortson was walking back to his living room, police entered the apartment and shot him. He reportedly said, “I can’t breathe” while on the ground after being shot, Crump said, repeating a witness account of the event.

Chantimekki Fortson, mother of Roger Fortson, a US Air Force airman, is comforted as she speaks about her son during a news conference regarding his death.

Publicly available police radio audio reviewed by reported a call for a disturbance at an apartment complex at 319 Racetrack Road around 4:30 p.m. local time.

“Don’t have anything further than a male and female; it’s all fourth party information from the front desk at the leasing office,” a deputy said on the radio.

A few minutes later, another deputy called in to report “shots fired, suspect down,” and called for emergency medical services.

“Multiple gunshot wounds to the chest, Black male,” another deputy chimes in shortly after. Fortson was shot six times, Crump said in his statement.

No other details, including the circumstances of the disturbance that prompted the local deputies to visit the apartment building, were released. Fortson was taken to an area hospital, where he later died. No officers were harmed in the incident.

Fortson joined the Air Force on November 19, 2019, according to a copy of his service record provided to He joined as an AC-130J gunner. Crump added that Roger graduated from high school with honors and had no criminal record.

Chantimekki Fortson, mother of Roger Fortson, a US Air Force airman, weeps as she holds a photo of her son during a news conference regarding his death.

The deputy involved was not identified in the news release and was “placed on paid administrative leave” pending the outcome of an investigation and administrative review, the sheriff’s office said.

On Monday evening, Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden released a statement saying the department was “saddened” by the incident and calling for further investigation into the shooting.

“I immediately placed the deputy on administrative leave and have asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct the investigation that is required in such incidents,” Aden said. “The State Attorney’s Office will also conduct an independent review. At this time, we humbly ask for our community’s patience as we work to understand the facts that resulted in this tragic event.”

The sheriff’s office declined to provide the original 911 call and the police report into the incident, citing “the ongoing active investigation” in an emailed response.

“We are calling for transparency in the investigation into Roger’s death and the immediate release of bodycam video to the family,” Crump said. “His family and the public deserve to know what occurred in the moments leading up to this tragedy. We urge authorities to immediately stop demonizing Roger in their statements to the media. It’s imperative to correct the record and acknowledge the wrongful entry into Roger’s home.”

Related: Special Operations Airman Shot and Killed by Florida Police During Disturbance in Apartment Building

Read the original article on Business Insider


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