Gun Presence Does Not Justify Killing Of Florida Airman, Experts And Supporters Say

Experts weigh in on the fatal shooting of Florida Airman Roger Fortson, stating his holding of his gun did not justify his death. A Sheriff deputy shot Fortson after he opened his apartment door with a gun in hand.

The May 3 incident occurred after the deputy appeared at Fortson’s doorstep to respond to a complaint about an argument. Fortson was allegedly by himself at his residence, and on FaceTime with his girlfriend. His advocates believe the killing was yet another instance of an officer using excessive force. It also lies as a case in which police fatally shoot a Black person in their own home, as reported by ABC News.

On the other hand, authorities argue that the deputy, who remains unidentified, had to make the timely decision if he felt a deadly risk. To some experts, however, the presence of a gun is not merely enough to justify the officer’s actions.

Ian Adams, an assistant criminology professor, explained how the increase in legal ownership of guns makes the matter tricky. Adams also has a past history as a police officer.

“The speed of the shooting is pretty intense. It’s happening very, very fast,” explained Adams on the footage. “The presence of a gun enhances the risk. But mere presence is not at all justification for using deadly force.”

He added, “We also live in a nation with more guns than people. If the mere presence of a gun were the standard for reasonable use of deadly force, we would be awash with police shootings.”

The incident garnered national attention due to the body-camera footage and the man’s rank in the Air Force. In the video released on May 9, the deputy banged on Fortson’s door, yelling that he was from the sheriff’s office. Seconds after the 23-year-old appeared at the door with his gun allegedly at his side, the deputy fired in his direction six times. He then proceeded to tell him to drop his weapon.

Ben Crump, the Fortsons’ attorney, argued that the lack of verbal warning by the deputy led to this preventable death. Fellow supporters of Fortson within the Air Force also believe his killing was unjustified.

“When he just opens the door, sees him with a gun, and unloads six rounds on the senior airman, to me that just screams unjust right away,” said Scott Lacey, a retired Air Force Special Operations Command Officer. “The airman didn’t raise his gun and showed no kind of hostile intent.”

The Okaloosa Sheriff’s Department, which employed the deputy, has its own history of unjust force claims. The department faces ongoing litigation for its treatment of Black residents, particularly LaTanya Griffin. Police opened Griffin’s home with a battering ram in 2019, and forced her to stay naked as upon arrest. She was never charged with any crime.

In regards to Fortson’s fatal shooting, investigators expect to make a decision soon on whether the officer should be charged.

RELATED CONTENT: Black Air Force Airman Killed By Florida Deputies Who Were At The Wrong Apartment, Attorney says

Read more

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign In


Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address, you will receive a link to create a new password via email.