Decorated U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Fatally Shot by Police After Allegedly Barging into Wrong Apartment in Florida (VIDEO)

Senior Airman Roger Fortson, a 23-year-old decorated member of the United States Air Force

A decorated 23-year-old U.S. Air Force Senior Airman, Roger Fortson, tragically lost his life after being shot six times by a deputy from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

The fatal shooting occurred on Friday afternoon when the deputy reportedly responded to a disturbance call at the wrong apartment.

According to a news release from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, the deputy arrived at the apartment complex on Racetrack Road around 4:30 p.m., following reports of a disturbance.

“Hearing sounds of a disturbance, he reacted in self defense after he encountered a 23-year old man armed with a gun and after the deputy had identified himself as law enforcement,” according to the news release.

Sheriff Eric Aden expressed his condolences and announced that the deputy involved had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

However, contrasting claims have emerged from the victim’s family, who argue that the deputy had entered the wrong apartment. Bodycam footage from the incident was made public during a news conference on Thursday, following demands from the family’s attorney for its release.

The family’s attorney, Ben Crump, and the girlfriend of the deceased, who was allegedly FaceTiming with him at the time, insist that the deputy was at the wrong unit.

ABC News reported: “Fortson was on a call with his girlfriend when he heard a knock on the door, according to Crump. When he asked who it was, he heard no response and could not see through the peephole. He told his girlfriend it looked like someone was covering it on the other side, according to Crump.”

“Someone knocked the door again aggressively, so Fortson allegedly retrieved his legal firearm and when he returned to the hallway of his front door, officers rammed through the door and shot him six times, Crump said,” the news outlet added.

In a press conference, Sheriff Aden publicly released the bodycam footage, disputing claims from Fortson’s family that the deputy had raided the wrong apartment.

The footage, timestamped May 3rd, starts at approximately 4:28 p.m., showing the deputy arriving at the apartment complex and speaking with a woman who reported a disturbance in apartment 1401.

The deputy took the elevator to the fourth floor and knocked on the door of apartment 1401 three times, announcing himself twice as a member of the sheriff’s office. Within seconds of the door opening, the deputy fired his weapon, striking Fortson, who was holding a firearm in his right hand. At least five shots can be heard.

WATCH: (Some viewers may find this content disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised)

Fortson’s family criticized the deputy’s actions after viewing the bodycam footage, arguing that the officer gave no verbal commands before opening fire:

“In the four-and-a-half minute, heavily redacted video, it is very troubling that the deputy gave no verbal commands and shot multiple times within a split second of the door being opened, killing Roger. Despite the redactions, the video has provided some answers, but it’s also raised even more troubling questions: As the officer didn’t tell Roger to drop the weapon before shooting, was the officer trained to give verbal warnings? Did the officer try to initiate life-saving measures? Was the officer trained to deal with law-abiding citizens who are registered gun owners?

“The girlfriend acknowledges that even though she initially thought the door was forced open by the police that she stands by her emotional recollection of what happened. To provide transparency into what happened during the Facetime video with Roger, his girlfriend and her attorney have instructed us that we can release a portion of the Facetime video that was recorded at the time of this tragedy.

“We remain adamant that the police had the wrong apartment as Roger was on the phone with his girlfriend for a substantial amount of time leading up to the shooting, and no one else was in the apartment.”

Despite the bodycam footage showing the deputy correctly identifying the unit, the family remains adamant that the deputy entered the wrong apartment and called for immediate answers.

“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,” said Crump.

It is worth noting that Ben Crump has represented the families of several high-profile victims who have garnered national attention.

  1. Trayvon Martin
  2. Michael Brown
  3. Tamir Rice
  4. Breonna Taylor
  5. George Floyd
  6. Ahmaud Arbery

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has pledged cooperation with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the State Attorney’s Office during their investigations. Sheriff Aden emphasized that the community should remain patient as authorities work to establish the facts surrounding the tragic event.

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