'A Lot Has to Be Done': Slain Airman's Mom Calls for More Action After Deputy Who Shot Her Son Is Fired

Mother of slain Roger Fortson, holds a photo of her son
Chantemekki Fortson, mother of slain Roger Fortson, a U.S. Air Force senior airman, holds a photo of her son during a news conference with attorney Ben Crump on Monday, June 3, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The mother of the 23-year-old special operations airman who was shot and killed May 3 by a Florida sheriff's deputy said the recent firing of that deputy is just a start and hopes to see more accountability.

"A lot has to be done," Meka Fortson, the mother of Roger Fortson, told Military.com. "It's moving too slow, and more needs to happen."

Deputy Eddie Duran, an Army veteran who had been with the department since 2019, was fired from the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office when it was determined that his "use of deadly force was not objectively reasonable and therefore violated agency policy," according to an Administrative Internal Affairs investigation released Friday. Duran encountered Roger Fortson, a 23-year-old airman at Hurlburt Field, and shot him multiple times after the airman opened his apartment door with his legally owned firearm held by his side.

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A day prior to the report being released and Duran's firing being announced, Sheriff Eric Aden attended a town hall at Hurlburt Field alongside Air Force Special Operations Command leadership, as well as community leaders, to speak to airmen about Fortson's death.

The hourslong meeting gave airmen the opportunity to ask Aden "many questions concerning the status and details of the ongoing investigations and feelings of frustration and sadness," Air Force Special Operations Command said in a news release.

    Meka Fortson told Military.com that the "united front" that the airmen and leadership have shown has proved helpful in holding the sheriff's office accountable.

    But she doesn't feel like she's anywhere close to getting closure or justice for her son's death, saying that the deputy is still receiving a pension.

    "When I found out he got fired I was at the cemetery," she said. "He got fired, meaning he's [going] to go on with his life. I'm going to have to go to a mausoleum."

    A criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is still ongoing.

    The Administrative Internal Affairs investigation, released to the public Friday, showed that "Mr. Fortson did not physically resist [Duran] in any way, and the investigation concluded that Mr. Forston did not point the gun in the former deputy's direction."

    Aden said in a press release Friday that "this tragic incident should have never occurred," adding that "Mr. Fortson did not commit any crime. By all accounts, he was an exceptional airman and individual."

    Body camera footage, historic dispatch logs and new police files, released by the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department and obtained by Military.com over the last month, have pointed to the unclear second- and third-hand information that led Duran to Fortson's door for a reported domestic disturbance, even though the young airman was home alone on a FaceTime video call with his girlfriend.

    While some bystanders told dispatch and Duran they were unsure where the disturbance was coming from and recounted a similar disturbance that had happened in recent weeks, the deputy was ultimately directed to apartment 1401 -- Fortson's unit.

    The administrative investigation seemed to double down on the assertion that the deputy had been directed to the right unit.

    "Dispatch records confirm the location of the disturbance was reported to be taking place in Unit 1401," the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office said in the news release. "On arrival at the apartment complex to which he was dispatched … the former deputy met with an employee of the apartment complex who identified Unit 1401 as the location of the disturbance and relayed to the former deputy that there had been recent unreported disturbances at or around the same apartment."

    In the administrative report, investigators spoke with a neighbor -- another airman, who is unnamed in the report -- who made the initial disturbance call to the leasing office. That neighbor detailed that she heard a loud argument allegedly from Fortson's apartment but did not hear a second voice. She also believed that there was a child living in the apartment.

    "I couldn't hear like anyone back, but I just assumed, because he was so loud," said the neighbor, whose name is redacted in the report. The neighbor told investigators she "acknowledged the footsteps" she had heard in the past "may have been from a dog" but was still positive there was a child at the residence.

    Additionally, Duran told investigators in the report that "when I saw his eyes ... I saw aggression" and added that, when he saw Fortson, "his hand and the elbow are slightly canted, meaning not straight down" and claimed, "I thought, I am stuck in this area and I'm about to get shot."

    Duran was in the Army from 2003 through 2014, according to the investigative report. He had one combat deployment to Iraq in 2008 and was in military intelligence but transitioned to military law enforcement in 2007.

    "While a military police officer, Deputy Duran received additional training through the Army's Special Reaction Team," the investigation detailed. "He received an honorable discharge."

    Fortson's family's attorney, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, and Fortson's mother have continued to push back against claims that there was a disturbance occurring at the apartment and that the airman posed a threat to Duran.

    "When they continue to try to push this narrative that it was the right apartment, then that's a stain on his reputation, because there was no domestic dispute going on in his apartment," Crump said. "When you look at the video, Roger never moved from the down position. He never even put his finger on the trigger. And so this notion about, 'Oh, he was being aggressive, he could see aggression in his eyes.' ... It's asinine and ludicrous when you look at that video."

    Related: New 911 Calls, Police Records Raise More Questions in Senior Airman Roger Fortson Shooting Death

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