Congressional Black Caucus: Public trust ‘broken’ after police killing of Roger Fortson

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on Thursday called on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to release its findings on the police shooting of Roger Fortson, a 23-year-old senior airman who died after a deputy shot him six times earlier this month. 

“Senior Airman Fortson was a son, brother, friend, and patriot who should still be with his family today,” the CBC said in a statement. “He was an Air Medal recipient who served our nation honorably, and we are forever grateful for his heroism and service.”

Body camera footage of the shooting released last week shows the unidentified deputy shooting Fortson multiple times within seconds of the active-duty airman opening his apartment door. 

Fortson was holding his legally owned firearm at the time, which he grabbed after being unable to identify who was at the door, according to civil rights attorney Ben Crump. Crump is representing Fortson’s family. 

“The public trust has been damaged, and the life of a young Black man was taken unjustly,” the CBC said Thursday. 

“The CBC is calling for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to release the findings of their investigation and additional information to the family and community who are hurting and calling for immediate justice and accountability for those involved.”

The deputy who shot Fortson was responding to a call of a domestic disturbance, but family members and Crump say he went to the wrong apartment. Fortson was alone in his apartment at the time the officer knocked on the door. They have accused the Okaloosa police department of attempting to smear Fortson‘s name.

Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden met with Fortson’s family and Crump last week. He said his deputy went to the correct address and denied claims of a smear campaign. 

Aden added that the state’s department of law enforcement is conducting a criminal investigation, and he hopes for a peaceful resolution. 

The CBC on Thursday added that Fortson’s family has the members’ condolences. 

“There are no words that can adequately express the sorrow we feel or words sufficient to take away the pain of losing a loved one to a police shooting,” the caucus said. 

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