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Family seeks transparency in fatal shooting of U.S. Airman Roger Fortson by Okaloosa Sheriff’s Deputy 

Attorneys representing the family of U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Roger Fortson, who was fatally shot by an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputy on Friday, May 3, held a press conference […]

Attorneys representing the family of U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Roger Fortson, who was fatally shot by an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputy on Friday, May 3, held a press conference on Thursday, demanding transparency and justice in the investigation of the incident.

  • The press conference, held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fort Walton Beach, was led by civil rights attorney Ben Crump and attorney Brian Barr of the Levin Papantonio Rafferty Law Firm. They were accompanied by Fortson’s mother, Meka Fortson, who spoke about her son while holding his framed picture.

According to the attorneys, Fortson, 23, was alone in his apartment when he heard an aggressive knock at the door. He reportedly asked who was there but received no response. Fortson then went to the door to look through the peephole but couldn’t see anyone, as if someone was covering it, according to Attorney Crump. 

Concerned, Fortson retrieved his legally-owned gun and was walking back to the living room when police allegedly burst through the door. Upon seeing the gun, Attorney Crump says deputies shot Fortson six times. 

  • Fortson’s girlfriend was on a FaceTime call with him during the incident and reported seeing him on the ground, stating, “I can’t breathe,” after being shot.

Crump emphasized that Fortson, who had no criminal record and was described as a stellar member of the Air Force, had every right to protect himself in his own home. “Roger Fortson was the best America had to offer. He was a patriot. He was a U.S. Airman, Special Ops. He was fighting for our way of life,” Crump said.

Attorney Brian Barr added, “Mistakes happen. We know that humans aren’t perfect. Good people make mistakes, but good people also own their mistakes.”

The attorneys argued that the deputies entered the wrong apartment, as there was no disturbance in Fortson’s residence. They called on the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office to provide transparency and correct what they feel is a narrative to portray the incident as a justified shooting in self-defense.

Meka Fortson, visibly emotional, described her son as a kind, humble, and intelligent young man who was deeply loved by his family and community. “Roger was given to me as a gift,” she said. “He was my everything.”

  • “Please clean his reputation,” she pleaded, addressing the Sheriff’s Office.

The attorneys announced their intention to view the body camera footage of the incident and expected it to be released to the public thereafter. They also called for a thorough investigation, emphasizing that Fortson was a law-abiding citizen and a “good guy” who did not deserve to be killed in this manner.

Fortson, who entered active duty in November 2019, was assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field. Fortson’s mother says she and her family have been in touch with Hurlburt Field who has been offering them support.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has not provided further comment on the incident, citing the ongoing investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and an independent review by the State Attorney’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office is hosting a press conference at 2pm on Thursday afternoon. 

Funeral services for Senior Airman Roger Fortson will be held in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, once his body is returned to the family.

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