Local and State News

OCSO Deputy Terminated after Internal Affairs Investigation

Friday, May 31, 2024

Shalimar, Fla. — An Okaloosa County Deputy Sheriff has been terminated following the internal investigation into the shooting that took the life of US Airman Fortson.

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.

Chez Elan Apartments

The OCSO administrative internal affairs investigation, opened immediately after the shooting, is separate from the active criminal investigation that remains ongoing with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. An administrative investigation by the OCSO Office of Professional Standards is inclusive of reports prepared and submitted by OCSO investigators, response to the scene, documented evidence, and official statements. It is limited in scope to determine whether the former deputy violated agency policy. Both the administrative and criminal investigations into the former deputy’s actions are required under Florida law after a fatal deputy-involved shooting. Mr. Fortson is not the subject of either investigation.

OCSO’s General Order 04.01 – Response to Resistance states OCSO deputies are authorized to use only that amount of force that is objectively reasonable to perform their duties. The policy states, “Deadly force shall only be used when the officer reasonably believes that the action is in defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in defense of any person in imminent danger of serious physical injury.” This policy directly references a legal standard established by the United States Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor, which acknowledges the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments – in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving – about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation. The policy goes on to explain, “Deadly force resistance is a subject’s hostile, attacking movements with or without a weapon that create a reasonable perception by the officer that the subject intends to cause and has the capability of causing death or great bodily harm to the officer or others.”

The objective facts as determined by the administrative investigation are:

  • The former deputy was dispatched to an in-progress physical disturbance at an apartment complex located at 319 Racetrack Road NW. Dispatch records confirm the location of the disturbance was reported to be taking place in Unit 1401.
  • On arrival at the apartment complex to which he was dispatched to, 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.
  • The former deputy’s interaction with the apartment complex’s employee and all further actions were recorded by his body-worn camera.
  • Upon arriving at the door to Unit 1401, the former deputy listened for sounds of any disturbance inside the apartment. Hearing none, the former deputy knocked without announcing and listened for a response. When describing what he heard, the former deputy said he heard: “Something to the effect of it’s the f****** police.”
  • The former deputy knocked loudly two more times and announced “Sheriff’s Office” both of those times. The administrative investigation found that the former deputy knocked three times and announced his presence two times within approximately 40 seconds.
  • When Mr. Fortson opened the door, the former deputy stated he saw Mr. Fortson holding a firearm in his right hand. The firearm was pointed at the ground sufficiently enough for the former deputy to clearly see the rear face of the rear sight.
  • The former deputy confirmed Mr. Fortson did not physically resist him in any way, and the investigation concluded that Mr. Fortson did not point the gun in the former deputy’s direction

OCSO General Order 04.01 – Response to Resistance, Section F.2.d. states, “Deadly force resistance is a subject’s hostile, attacking movements with or without a weapon that create a reasonable perception by the officer that the subject intends to cause and has the capability of causing death or great bodily harm to the officer or others.” The objective facts of the administrative investigation concluded that Mr. Fortson did not make any hostile, attacking movements, and therefore, the former deputy’s use of deadly force was not objectively reasonable under OSCO’s policy.

“This tragic incident should have never occurred,” said Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden. “The objective facts do not support the use of deadly force as an appropriate response to Mr. Fortson’s actions. Mr. Fortson did not commit any crime. By all accounts, he was an exceptional airman and individual.”

Sheriff Aden continued, “Our mission at the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office is to ensure fair and equal administration of the law, safeguard civil liberties and preserve public safety, doing so with professionalism and unity of purpose, while being good stewards of the public trust. As your Sheriff, I am committed to this mission and to ensure our deputies adhere to the professional and safety standards that come with the inherent risk of being a first responder who, by the very nature of their calling, must respond to potentially dangerous situations where they cannot know what they are about to encounter. In this case, the former deputy did not meet the standard of objective reasonableness and his use of control to resistance was excessive.”

“I want to thank our dedicated team for their around-the-clock effort to ensure a thorough review of the facts here. Since the tragedy occurred, our office has been fully accountable and transparent in its compliance with statutory requirements, providing numerous public statements, making accessible the available body-worn camera footage and other related records, meeting with Mr. Fortson’s family and legal counsel, and communicating openly with the U.S. Air Force and our community at-large. We continue to wish Mr. Fortson’s family comfort and peace,” Sheriff Aden concluded.

Click her to view the Office of Professional Standards Administrative Investigation.

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