Funeral for US Airman Killed by Florida Deputy to be Livestreamed

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Senior US Airman Roger Fortson, who was fatally shot by a Florida sheriff’s deputy, will be laid to rest on Friday at a Georgia Baptist church as the funeral service is livestreamed.

The body of the 23-year-old airman was returned to his family at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Tuesday by an Air Force dignified transfer.

Fortson was shot six times on May 3 by a Florida sheriff’s deputy who allegedly responded to the wrong apartment for a disturbance call, according to civil rights attorney Ben Crump. Okaloosa Sheriff’s officials dispute this claim and provided a different narrative of how the shooting unfolded.

The funeral will be held 11 a.m. Friday at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, 6400 Woodrow Road, Stonecrest. A wake will be held noon to 7 p.m. Thursday at Donald Trimble Mortuary, 1876 2nd Ave., Decatur.

Roger Fortson was fatally shot by a deputy on May 3. He was a Senior Airman.

Chantemekki Fortson Public Facebook Post

Pastor Jamal Bryant will deliver the eulogy for Fortson. Crump will give a speech calling for justice.

A livestream for the funeral will be available on New Birth Missionary Baptist Church’s YouTube page and website.

How the deadly shooting unfolded

In the officer bodycam video released Thursday hours after the family hosted a press conference, the deputy is seen in the apartment complex on Racetrack Road asking, “What’s going on.”

He asked if a “fight is going on or something.” He meets with a woman who said fighting happens “frequently but this time it was sounding like it was getting out of hand.”

When the officer asked what door, the woman said, “I’m not sure.” She later says apartment 1401 – which was Fortson’s apartment number.

The Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office released a narrative that claimed the deputy was responding in self-defense after he encountered a man with a gun.

The officer knocks on the door, yells “Sheriff’s Office! Open the door!” and moves to the side. When Fortson opens the door, the deputy tells him to “step back” and immediately starts shooting and calling for Fortson to “drop the gun.”

As all of this is unfolding, Fortson was on Facetime with his girlfriend and alone in his off-base apartment, Crump said.

After a barrage of bullets, Fortson hits the ground and was eventually taken to a local hospital, where he died.

Fortson’s dog, Chloe, was with Fortson in his apartment and witnessed the shooting.

Aden said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will handle the criminal investigation required. However, no determination has been made as to whether the deputy’s actions were justified or not.

The deputy was placed on paid administrative leave, “pending the outcome of a formal investigation and administrative review,” according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has not released the deputy’s name to Newsweek yet.

Roger Fortson
Roger Fortson, 23, was shot and killed following an incident at his off-base residence

Hurlburt Field

Who is Roger Fortson?

Fortson was assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., according to the Air Force. He entered active duty on Nov. 19, 2019.

Fortson’s mother, Chantemekki Fortson, called her son a “patriot.”

“Roger was given to me as a gift,” Chantemekki said. “My baby was my everything.”

Crump also emphasized that Fortson “respected authority” and would have “never shot at a police officer.”

“They shot a good guy. They killed a good guy. They took from the Air Force a good guy,” Crump said. “They took from his mama a good guy.”

Fortson was “proud to be in the Air Force,” Crump said, adding that the Senior Airman wanted to serve his country since he was a child. He believed in “truth” as well as “dignity as the principles of America.”

Tributes have appeared at Fortson’s former apartment door. The small shrine includes flowers, candles, combat boots, an American flag, and a long wooden plank anchored by two sets of aviator wings and words of prayers and remembrances for Fortson.

“Senior Airman Fortson, from your fellow aviator,” one message reads. “Keep on flying! You are in our thoughts and prayers.”