Atlanta

Attorney for family of GA airman killed by deputy said officer fired 6 times, calls it ‘execution’

ATLANTA, Ga. — The attorney for the family of a Georgia airman who was shot to death by a deputy in Florida said the officer used excessive force and that he should have known he was in the wrong apartment.

Air Force Senior Airman Roger Fortson, 23, was shot to death by an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputy in his off-base apartment in Fort Walton Beach on May 3. Fortson grew up in DeKalb County.

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Attorneys for the family said deputies were responding to reports of a domestic disturbance inside one of the apartments involving a man and a woman. They say the deputies ended up at the wrong apartment.

The sheriff’s office maintains that the deputy shot Fortson because he answered the door with a gun.

Attorney Ben Crump said in a news conference at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in DeKalb County Thursday that the deputy who killed Fortson shot him six times.

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“Police used excessive force in executing him,” Crump said. “I mean, six shots. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! He pulled the trigger six times.”

Crump said he has seen the entire body camera video from the deputy and said the deputy should have known he was at the wrong apartment. The deputy was told that a man and woman were both in the apartment. Fortson was alone at the time.

“As long as they keep saying they went to the right apartment, they are staining his reputation, because Roger did not have any domestic disturbance. Roger had no criminal history,” Crump said. “Roger had a good name. Roger was a good young man.”

Crump then read the transcript of the officer’s body cam video, in which the woman reporting the domestic violence incident initially told the officer she didn’t know which apartment the disturbance was in. She then gave the officer an apartment number.

Crump also played the audio recordings with 911 dispatch.

“Don’t have any further other than a male and a female,” dispatch told the officer. “It’s all fourth-party information from the front desk at the leasing office.”

In the body camera video, Forston, who was a registered owner of the gun, is holding the gun down, trained toward the floor. He was shot within a second of opening the door.

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New Birth Pastor Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant said it’s a sad day when a patriot is killed on his own soil.

“This is a heavy moment for the nation,” Bryant said. “This is a dark moment in our history that one of our patriots was slain not on foreign field, was slain on domestic soil just for the crime of being Black in America.”

Fortson’s girlfriend, who lives in Atlanta, told Channel 2 Action News that she was on a call with Fortson when there was a knock at his door.

“Then the knock gets aggressive, and he says, ‘I’m going to grab my gun because I don’t know who that is. He asked who it was louder,” she said. “What I thought was... It was gunshots. That’s when I heard the officer then identify himself and says, ‘Put the gun down. And Roger says, ‘Ok, ok.’”

She said she then heard what she believes were his last conscious moments.

“Roger says, ‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.’ He calls out three gunshots to the chest and three to the forearm,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do. There was nothing I could do.”

Fortson is set to be buried on Friday.

Channel 2′s Audrey Washington was at the Donald Trimble Mortuary in Decatur Thursday night where people were paying their respects.

At the funeral, Washington learned that here will be special tributes paid to the airman from the U.S. Air Force and members of Congress.

A fellow airman, Keira Taylor, owns a horse and carriage company and will provide her services for the funeral free of charge.

“I couldn’t figure a better way to pay tribute and send my condolences to the family,” Taylor said.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help support his siblings.