Wednesday, June 12, 2024

FL: Okaloosa County Deputy who Shot, Killed Senior Airman Roger Fortson has been Fired

On May 3, 2024, Deputy Eddie Duran shot and killed Senior Airman Roger Fortson when Fortson answered the deputy's demand for entry, on a domestic violence call. The initial review of the body cam video was discussed on AmmoLand.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office (OCSO) has completed their administrative internal affairs investigation into the shooting. The findings of the investigation were released on May 30, 2024. On May 31, the Sheriff's office announced Deputy Eddie Duran had violated the Sheriff's Office policy and had been terminated (fired) from his position. From the OkaloosaSheriff facebook page:

 SHALIMAR, Fla. (May 31, 2024) – The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) has terminated Deputy Eddie Duran following the completion of an administrative internal affairs investigation into the death of Roger Fortson on May 3. The administrative investigation determined the deputy’s use of deadly force was not objectively reasonable and therefore violated agency policy.

The Final Investigative Report (FIR) by the Office of Professional Standards (internal investigation by OCSO) is detailed and professionally done. It is separate from the investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The scope of the internal investigation is limited to whether the deputy violated agency policy. Other agencies will determine if criminal actions occurred.

Several things become apparent in the detailed Final Investigative Report. The woman (neighbor) who reported the domestic disturbance created most of the drama. She based her concerns on hearing one voice (apparently Roger Fortson's) which was transmitted through an air duct. She gave the apartment number to the apartment leasing agent, but was unwilling to contact the police herself. When the fatal shots were fired, she contacted the OCSO directly.

The apartment leasing agent relayed the information to deputy Eddie Duran, and added some additional speculation about a previous incident which the administrator was not clear involved Fortson's apartment.  There were assumptions in the reports which were incorrect. Fortson was alone in the apartment with his dog. He was on the phone with his girlfriend. There was no violence ongoing.

The  FIR breaks down what happened from when the OCSO was called until the door at apartment 1401 started to be opened. The description is clear. At the time the door is starting to be opened, the FIR goes through the body camera footage in greater detail. From the time Deputy Duran draws his firearm until the shooting has stopped and Fortson is ordered to "Drop the gun" and responds with "I don't have it", every event is examined, sometimes frame by frame. The body camera recorded events at 30 frames per second. Deputy Duran fires five shots in a little under a second.

The woman who made the initial complaint never heard anyone other than Fortson speak in the apartment on May 3rd. She equated Fortson speaking loudly to an argument. She believed there was a child in Fortson's apartment, perhaps because Fortson had a dog, and she may have misinterpreted noises the dog made for noises from a child.  When she contacted OSCO, she asked if the child was OK.

Deputy Duran did not go to the "wrong apartment". He went to the apartment he was directed to go to.

Deputy Duran did not hear evidence of an ongoing disturbance when he listened outside apartment 1401. He thought he heard a muffled reference to "f*cking police". The audio is unclear, but a muffled "police" can be distinguished if the listener is primed to hear it.

Deputy Duran was primed to believe he was in an extremely dangerous situation by the poor information he had been given before he approached the door.  Deputy Duran reported when he looked at Fortson's eyes, he saw aggression.  When he saw the gun in Fortson's hand, he immediately thought he was in extreme danger, and reacted by shooting Fortson.


This tragic and rare situation came about from a series of unfortunate events and errors. The first witness misunderstood and mischaracterized what was happening in apartment 1401, based on her assumptions. The leasing agent reinforced those assumptions with her information about a previous event, where she was unsure of the location.  Deputy Duran was told the information was at least second hand, but acted as if it were clearly correct. Deputy Duran projected those assumptions onto what muffled words he could hear through the apartment walls.  This primed him to react violently to a situation, which up to then, had no violent component.

Roger Fortson lost his life. Deputy Duran has lost his job, and probably any future career in law enforcement. He may be convicted of a crime, such as negligent homicide or manslaughter.

The Final Investigative Report is available in full at the website. The administrative investigation is not the criminal investigation, which is being conducted by the  Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Media coverage makes tragic events such as this appear to be common, when in fact, they are very rare and unusual.


©2024 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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