Home Family Law The attorney for the family of the slain Air Force airman and...

The attorney for the family of the slain Air Force airman and Georgia native says video and calls show the deputy was at the wrong home

0
47
The attorney for the family of the slain Air Force airman and Georgia native says video and calls show the deputy was at the wrong home

An attorney for Roger Fortson's family said Thursday that body camera footage of the Florida sheriff's deputy who killed the Air Force airman and police radio traffic immediately after the shooting support their claim that the deputy went to the wrong apartment when he responded to the disturbance by a domestic worker Call that day.

On the police radio, which attorney Ben Crump played at a news conference surrounded by Fortson's family, a dispatcher said they only had “information from four parties” about the scene of the disturbance.

“Uh, other than a man and a woman, we don’t have anything else,” the dispatcher tells the officers. “This is all fourth-party information from the front desk of the leasing office.”

Crump also highlighted two parts of the bodycam video in which the deputy asks the woman leading him through the complex, “Which door?” The woman responds, “Um… I'm not sure.” Seconds later, the narrated Woman told officer that she had heard a disturbance two weeks ago, but “I wasn't sure where it was coming from.”

Fortson, 23, was shot and killed in the doorway of his home by an Okaloosa County sheriff's deputy on May 3. Sheriff's officials say the deputy acted in self-defense while responding to a call about a disturbance at the apartment complex. Crump and Fortson's family claims the deputy went to the wrong unit and the shooting was unjustified.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating and the deputy involved has been placed on administrative leave. Nearly two weeks after the shooting, the sheriff has yet to release an incident report, 911 call recordings or the officer's identity, despite requesting that information under Florida's Open Records Act.

A shrine of sorts was erected outside Fortson's apartment, including an open Stella Artois beer, combat boots, bouquets of flowers and an American flag.

The news conference was held at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in the Atlanta suburb of Stonecrest, followed by a memorial service in nearby Decatur. Fortson's funeral will be held Friday at New Birth.

Bodycam video of the confrontation shows the deputy arriving at a Fort Walton Beach residence and speaking to a woman outside who described hearing an argument. The deputy then got into an elevator and walked down an outside hallway.

The video shows the deputy knock on the door and step to the side, seemingly out of sight of the door. Twice he shouted, “Sheriff’s Office! Open the door!”

Fortson, who legally owned a firearm, opened the door and could be seen holding what appeared to be a handgun pointed at the ground. The deputy shouted, “Stand back!” and then shot Fortson six times. Only then did he shout: “Drop the gun! Drop the gun!”

The deputy then called the paramedics over the radio. The case is one of many across the country in which black people have been shot dead in their homes by police.

Crump previously said that Fortson was talking to his girlfriend over FaceTime and that he grabbed his gun because he heard someone outside his apartment. He said the deputy stormed into the apartment, citing a report from his girlfriend, who has not yet been identified.

In a portion of the FaceTime video recorded on Fortson's cellphone, the airman can be heard moaning and saying, “I can't breathe.” A police officer can be heard yelling at him, “Stop shutting up.” move!” The phone is pointed at the ceiling and does not show what is going on in the apartment.

Fortson, a senior airman, was stationed at Hurlburt Field near Fort Walton Beach, Florida. He was a gunner aboard the AC-130J and received an Air Combat Equipment Medal, which is normally awarded after 20 flights in a combat zone or for outstanding gallantry or performance in a single mission.

Fortson was assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron as a special operations airman, where one of his duties was to load the attack helicopter's 30mm and 105mm cannons.

His family said he doted on his 10-year-old sister and was determined to give her and his mother a better life, hoping to eventually buy her a house.