Bodycam footage shows moment deputy fatally shoots Air Force airman at his home

Bodycam footage shows moment deputy fatally shoots Air Force airman at his home

Police in Florida have released bodycam footage showing the moment a deputy fatally shot an Air Force airman as he answered the door to his apartment last week.

Roger Fortson, 23, a Black senior airman, is seen in the video answering the door while holding a handgun by his side before — the deputy opened fire multiple times at close range. Fortson later died in the hospital.

The bodycam footage was released after the family’s civil rights attorney, Ben Crump, who represents the family, urged officials to make it public. The family and local police are in a dispute as to what really happened in the lead-up to the deadly shooting which took place in Okaloosa County, which is located in the northwest of Florida. 


The deputy was responding to a domestic disturbance report on May 3, but Fortson’s family says law enforcement knocked on the wrong door. Fortson’s family also says that the deputy gave no verbal commands before pulling the trigger.  

“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,” the family said in a statement released by Crump.

“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,” the family statement added.

The video shows the deputy walking up to a brown apartment door at around 4:30 p.m. and then waiting outside as if he is checking for noise coming from the unit. All that is audible is a dog barking and then the deputy moves to the side of the door.

After about 25 seconds, the deputy knocks on the door and shouts, “Sheriff’s office, open the door.” He then repeats it before Fortson opens the door holding a gun in his right hand by his side. 

The deputy fires off multiple shots and Fortson falls backward onto the ground before the deputy shouts “drop the gun, drop the gun.”

“It’s over there,” Forston can be heard saying with pain in his voice. “I don’t have it.”

The deputy can then be heard calling for EMS.

Sheriff Eric Aiden of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office disputed claims that the deputy called to the wrong apartment and said that the investigation needs to answer many questions before a determination can be made about whether the officer’s actions were justified. 

“We are aware of a press release and other comments that falsely state our deputy entered the wrong apartment and imply that they burst through the door into Mr. Fortson’s residence,” Aiden said in a Thursday press conference. “Those statements are inaccurate, as shown in the video that we are about to see.” 


“What we do know at this time is that the deputy did announce himself not once, but twice. Mr. Fortson’s comments indicate that he did acknowledge it was law enforcement at the door and he arrived at the door with a firearm in his hand. The deputy knocked on the correct door. He did not cover the peephole or otherwise obscure its view in any way.”

He added that law enforcement is committed to transparency and looks forward to FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) and the state attorney’s report.

It remains unclear who called law enforcement on the day of the shooting or why.

In other bodycam footage, a woman meets the deputy at the complex and directs him to apartment 1401, where she said she heard noises that sounded like domestic abuse two weeks prior. 

But there was no indication of why any witness might suspect there was a disturbance in that apartment on the day of the shooting because Fortson was home there alone. That is why the family suspects the deputy was directed to the wrong door.

Crump said that Fortson was on a FaceTime call with his girlfriend when he heard a knock on his door. He asked, “Who is it?” but didn’t get a response, Crump said, relating the girlfriend’s account.

Fortson then retrieved a gun he owned legally and walked back through his living room toward the door, Crump said.

“He was in his apartment minding his business and then… this cascade of tragic events started to take place,” Crump said.

Crump’s office also released FaceTime video from Fortson’s call with his girlfriend that seemed to capture Fortson moaning and saying “I can’t breathe” as he lay mortally wounded, according to Reuters. The camera appeared to be pointed at a ceiling fan and did not show Fortson or the deputy, the publication reports. 

The Air Force says Forston supported its special operations wing at Hurlburt Field.

“They took a patriot from us,” Crump said at a press conference with the family. “He respected authority, had he known they were the police… he would have just opened up his apartment.”

Crump was also an attorney for the family of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was an emergency medical technician, who died in similar circumstances to Fortson when police burst into her apartment with a drug warrant.

Taylor’s boyfriend at the time, Kenneth Walker, fired a shot that hit one of the officers as they came through the door and they returned fire, striking Taylor multiple times. No drugs or cash were found at Taylor’s apartment.

Crump said Fortson always dreamed of becoming a pilot, describing him as a patriot and a good young man who followed rules and respected authority.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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