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Senior Airman Roger Fortson of the U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rogert Fortson. | Source: U.S. Air Force

The family of a U.S. Air Force officer who was shot and killed last week by a police officer in Florida claims the bodycam footage from the deadly incident contradicts the initial police narrative and leaves more questions than answers.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday released the video footage to the family of U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rogert Fortson, who was killed in his own home last Friday. The police claim the deputy responded to a reported “disturbance,” but a witness claims the police showed up at the wrong address before shooting Fortson six times.

What happened to Roger Fortson?

Initial reports provided by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office claimed the deputy acted out of “self defense” because Fortson was armed with a gun. The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office also said the deputy opened fire only after he “identified himself as law enforcement.”

But Fortson’s family suggested in a statement after watching the bodycam video of the shooting that those claims were not entirely true.

“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,” the family said in a statement shared with NewsOne. “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 fateful FaceTime call

Fortson was on a FaceTime call with his girlfriend at the time of the shooting, according to civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Airman’s family. The unidentified deputy knocked on Fortson’s apartment door but didn’t answer when asked who was knocking, Crump said. Fortson’s girlfriend said a few minutes later the knocking got “very aggressive,” according to Crump. Again, no one answered when asked “who is it?” and Fortson, an active member of the U.S. military and possibly suspecting a burglar, armed himself with his legally owned gun.

That’s when the police kicked in Fortson’s door, saw he had a gun and shot him six times, Crump said.

Fortson’s girlfriend said she saw and heard Fortson on the ground claiming, “I can’t breathe,” according to Crump.

Crump said Fortson’s girlfriend claimed that the officers went to the wrong apartment because there was no disturbance happening while she and Fortson were on the FaceTime call.

Fortson was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

“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,” Fortson’s family continued while sharing nearly four-minute long video footage from the FaceTime call. The video, which is graphic and should be viewed with discretion, can be watched by clicking here.

Fortson’s family added that they “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.”

Crump has called for an immediate investigation into the shooting and suggested the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office was trying to assassinate Fortson’s character in death.

“We urge authorities to immediately stop demonizing Roger in their statements to the media,” Crump previously said. “It’s imperative to correct the record and acknowledge the wrongful entry into Roger’s home. What we know for sure is that Roger was a dedicated U.S. Airman serving the country and a cherished member of his community. Any attempts to tarnish his character only compound the pain felt by his loved ones.”

The deputy who shot and killed Fortson was not identified and placed on administrative leave, according to reports.

Roger Fortson bodycam video

NBC News has obtained the bodycam video:

The video shows the deputy arriving on scene and being directed to apartment 1401 by a woman whose face is blurred. The woman tells him that someone had overheard arguing there.

The video shows the deputy knocking and twice saying, “Sheriff’s office. Open the door.”

When Fortson opens the door, he appears to be holding a gun that is facing downward. The deputy says, “Step back” and fires his weapon multiple times. Fortson falls to the floor. The deputy twice yells, “Drop the gun,” to which Fortson replies, “It’s over there.”

The deputy then calls for medical assistance.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have a great track record

Last week was far from the first time that the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has been involved in a questionable shooting in recent months.

There could also be additional scrutiny of this shooting because the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office is the same police department that employed a cop who in November infamously shot at an unarmed and handcuffed Black man after mistaking the sound of a falling acorn for a gunshot.

In that instance, now-former deputy Jesse Hernandez is shown on video shooting at unarmed suspect Marquis Jackson – who was not injured – after an acorn fell onto the roof of the patrol car.

That prompted Hernandez to yell “shots fired!” before he let off some rounds from his own service weapon.

Hernandez was allowed to resign gracefully in December while he was under investigation.

In what could be a sign of things to come from the police shooting and killing Fortson, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office ultimately described Hernandez’s actions on that fateful day as “reasonable” and cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Similarities to the police murder of Botham Jean

Fortson’s shooting was reminiscent of the 2018 police murder of Botham Jean when off-duty Dallas police officer Amber Guyger mistook his apartment for her own, profiled the Black man in his own home for a burglar of hers and shot him to death within seconds. Jean, 27, had been eating ice cream on his sofa when Guyger broke into his apartment and shot him to death.

In that instance, the Dallas Police Department was accused of trying to criminalize Jean in death by irrelevantly claiming “a small amount of marijuana” was found in the apartment.

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The post Roger Fortson Bodycam Video Contradicts Claim Of ‘Self-Defense’ In Florida Police Killing Of Air Force Officer, Family Suggests appeared first on NewsOne.

Roger Fortson Bodycam Video Contradicts Claim Of ‘Self-Defense’ In Florida Police Killing Of Air Force Officer, Family Suggests  was originally published on newsone.com