Florida Sheriff’s Deputy Fired After He Fatally Shot US Airman

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot an airman in his Florida home on May 3 was fired late last month following an internal investigation into the shooting.

According to a May 31 news release from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, the investigation of the shooting of US Airman Roger Fortson conducted by Internal Affairs determined that the deadly force used by Deputy Eddie Duran “was not objectively reasonable” as required by agency policy.

Deputies responded to Fortson’s apartment on May 3 after reports of a “disturbance in progress.”

According to Internal Affairs, a woman in the apartment complex informed Deputy Duran that the situation in Fortson’s apartment was “getting out of hand.”

When Fortson opened the door to the responding deputies he was holding a gun in one hand. Deputy Duran instructed him to “step back” and then fired his weapon five times. Fortson was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Body cam footage revealed that while Fortson was holding a firearm in his right hand, both of his hands were down.

In his interview with Internal Affairs, Duran claimed that Fortson’s gun arm was not “straight down” but tilted in a way “that his arm is slightly up.”

However, the investigation noted that the gun Fortson was holding was pointing downward enough for Deputy Duran to “see the rear face of the rear sight.” Internal Affairs concluded that Fortson was not pointing the gun at Duran when the deputy opened fire.

Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Arden described the incident as “tragic,” saying in the news release that it “should have never occurred.”

Arden added that based on the facts, the use of deadly force in this case was not “an appropriate response.” He said Fortson had committed no crime and was, “by all accounts,” an “exceptional airman and individual.”

Eddie Duran first joined the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department in July 2019. He resigned in November 2021 after relocating out of state with his wife but rejoined the department in June 2023.