Sheriff Releases Body Camera Footage in Police Killing of Airman in His Home

Under mounting pressure to offer a justification for the fatal police shooting of a U.S. Air Force senior airman in his own apartment last week, a Florida sheriff on Thursday released body camera footage of the deadly encounter.

The footage shows Senior Airman Roger Fortson, 23, answering the door of his apartment in the Florida Panhandle and immediately being shot by a deputy from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. The video also shows that Airman Fortson was holding a gun, and the authorities have maintained that the deputy “reacted in self-defense.”

The release of the footage came amid growing questions from the airman’s family and their lawyers — including Ben Crump, who has represented the family of George Floyd — who had accused the deputy of entering the wrong apartment, of not knocking or announcing himself and of bursting through the door.

Some of those accusations appeared to be undercut by the body camera video. The lawyers said they were based on information from Airman Fortson’s girlfriend, who had been on a video call with him during the episode. They did not dispute that Airman Fortson was armed but said that he had every right to be as a legal gun owner in his own home.

Asked if he believed the outcome would have been different if Airman Fortson was not Black, Mr. Crump said, “That is something that America has to answer.”

The footage released Thursday shows that the deputy, who has not been identified, had been told by a woman at the apartment complex in Fort Walton Beach, in the Florida Panhandle, that he should go to apartment No. 1401 because of an apparent domestic dispute there.

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