Deputy fired after fatally shooting airman in his own home; victim's mother wants criminal charges

She and her lawyer are calling for Eddie Duran to be criminally charged.

ByTesfaye Negussie ABCNews logo
Tuesday, June 4, 2024
Florida deputy fired for fatally shooting US airman
The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office says an investigation found that the former deputy Eddie Duran used unreasonable deadly force against airman Roger Fortson.

OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. -- The mother of an Air Force airman who was shot and killed by a Florida sheriff's deputy last month said at a press conference Monday morning that she wants the deputy criminally charged.

Eddie Duran, the Okaloosa Sheriff's Office deputy who shot Senior Airman Roger Fortson on May 3, was terminated from the department on Friday, according to a sheriff's office statement obtained by ABC News.

"I want justice for my child. You're not going to throw me a bone [by firing him]. Take his credentials. Take his pension," Chantemekki Fortson, Roger Fortson's mother, said Monday in Atlanta, Georgia. "Bring up charges against him."

Fortson, 23, was in his home in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, when he was shot by Duran, who was responding to a call reporting a domestic disturbance, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office.

RELATED: 911 call released in FL deputy-involved shooting of Senior Airman Roger Forston

In body camera footage released by the sheriff's office, Fortson is seen holding a gun in his right hand with his arm extended downward and the muzzle pointing at the floor as he opens the door in response to the deputy, who can be heard announcing twice that he's with the sheriff's office. The footage also shows Fortson had his left hand up, palm showing, gesturing towards the deputy when he opened the door.

Okaloosa County sheriff showed the video during a Thursday news conference, shortly after an attorney for the 23-year-old airman's family called for its public release

Duran shot Fortson within seconds of the door opening. Fortson died of his injuries

Duran said he saw Fortson armed with a gun and that Fortson took a step toward the deputy and had a look of aggression in his eyes, according to an interview Duran conducted with the sheriff's office during their subsequent investigation.

A sweep of the home did not find another person in the apartment.

"I put so many pictures of my baby on social media," Chantemekki Fortson said. "He would never put aggression in his eyes if he wanted to. Roger was helping to raise his 16-year-old brother."

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Fortson family, said at Monday's press conference that the deputy went to the wrong apartment.

"He [Roger Fortson] was in the apartment by himself with his dog, Chloe, video-chatting with his girlfriend," Crump said. "There was no domestic dispute. ..."

Fortson's girlfriend, who asked not to be identified due to fears for her safety, spoke last month to Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB-TV, telling the station the couple was having a conversation about weekend plans when the shooting occurred.

RELATED: 'I'm so sad and devastated': Girlfriend of US Airman killed by police while on Facetime speaks out

Former deputy Duran was placed on administrative leave following the shooting while it was investigated. "Hearing sounds of a disturbance, he reacted in self-defense after he encountered a 23-year-old man armed with a gun," according to a sheriff's office statement released on May 9. "[This was] after the deputy had identified himself as law enforcement."

"This tragic incident should have never occurred," Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden said in a statement on Friday, announcing that Duran had been fired. "The objective facts do not support the use of deadly force as an appropriate response to Mr. Fortson's actions. Mr. Fortson did not commit any crime. By all accounts, he was an exceptional airman and individual."

The victim was identified by his family as Roger Fortson, an ​active-duty senior airman, according to attorney Ben Crump
The victim was identified by his family as Roger Fortson, an ​active-duty senior airman, according to attorney Ben Crump

The Florida state attorney's office did not respond to ABC News' most recent request for a statement, but in a previous statement said they would wait for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to finish their investigation before deciding on whether to file charges. That investigation is ongoing, according to Friday's sheriff's office statement.

"Our role is to investigate the deputy's use of force and we will submit our investigative findings to the local state attorney's office," FDLE previously told ABC News in a statement. "Each investigation is thorough and unique and there is not a definitive timeline for completion. Our investigation remains active until the prosecutorial review and their findings are completed."

ABC News' Davi Merchan contributed to this report.