Attorney claims deputies who fatally shot U.S. airman entered incorrect apartment

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump speaks in the Audubon Ballroom, now part of The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, in New York, on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

“Tragedy Strikes: Unarmed Black Airman Fatally Shot in Florida Apartment”

In a heartbreaking turn of events, Senior Airman Roger Fortson, a Black U.S. Air Force airman stationed at the Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, was fatally shot in his off-base apartment in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The incident transpired on May 3, when deputies responded to a disturbance call at a nearby apartment complex but mistakenly entered Fortson’s unit.

The Wrongful Entry:

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, known for his involvement in high-profile cases of law enforcement shootings against Black individuals, revealed that Fortson was home alone during the encounter. The horrific events unfolded when Fortson, armed with a legally owned gun, heard a knock at his door. Despite asking for identification from the other side, no response was given. Moments later, deputies barged into his apartment, fatally shooting him six times, leaving him gasping for breath on the ground.

Questions of Accountability:

The woman on a Facetime call with Fortson at the time of the incident attested that there was no disturbance prior to the deputies’ intrusion, leading to the belief that they may have entered the wrong apartment. The need for transparency and an immediate release of body cam footage has been emphasized by Crump and Fortson’s family, urging authorities to provide answers and justice for this senseless tragedy.

Similarities in Tragedy:

Fortson’s untimely death draws unsettling parallels to other instances where police officers have wrongfully entered the homes of Black individuals, resulting in fatal outcomes. Cases like that of Botham Jean and Atatiana Jefferson serve as haunting reminders of the risks faced by Black communities, even within the presumed safety of their own residences.

A Call for Change:

As the investigation unfolds and the community grapples with the aftermath of this devastating loss, it is imperative to reflect on the systemic issues that perpetuate such injustices. The value of Black lives and the need for accountability in policing practices must be at the forefront of conversations surrounding Fortson’s tragic death.

In the pursuit of justice and in honor of Roger Fortson, may his memory serve as a catalyst for change and a beacon of hope for a future where every individual, regardless of race, can feel safe and protected in their own homes.”



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