Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Police Killing of Roger Fortson Shows the Conflict Between the 2nd Amendment and Paranoid Cops May 20, 2024


The Police Killing of Roger Fortson Shows the Conflict Between the 2nd Amendment and Paranoid Cops

Fortson, a 23-year-old active duty airman, was shot and killed by a Florida sheriff's deputy when he opened the door to his apartment holding a gun at his side.
Hundreds of Air Force service members in dress blue uniforms filed into a Georgia megachurch Friday for the funeral of Roger Fortson, 23, a senior airman who was shot and killed by an Okaloosa County sheriff's deputy earlier this month after he answered the door to his apartment holding a gun at his side.
Fortson's dramatic funeral, which included a video message from Rev. Al Sharpton, was a stark reminder of the deadly incoherence between America's Second Amendment culture and hypervigilant police training and tactics.
Fortson was fatally shot on May 3 after sheriff's deputies arrived at his apartment complex in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, responding to a call about an alleged domestic disturbance.
Body camera footage released by the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office shows the deputy knocked on Fortson's door and announced himself several times. Fortson eventually opened the door, holding a handgun at his side. The officer said "step back" and began firing. Fortson only had time to raise his empty hand, palm outward. Three to four seconds elapsed between Fortson opening the door and the deputy firing six rounds at him.

Ben Crump, a prominent civil rights attorney who is representing Fortson's family, said in a recent press conference that police went to the wrong door. A radio dispatcher told deputies that the call was "fourth-party information from the front desk at the leasing office," and body camera footage showed an unidentified woman telling deputies she was "not sure" which door the disturbance came from before directing them to Fortson's apartment. Fortson's family says he legally owned the gun, had no criminal record, and was home alone at the time of the incident.

"We've got to call it as it is—Roger died of murder," Rev. Jamal Bryant said at Fortson's funeral. "He died of stone-cold murder. And somebody has got to be held accountable. Roger was better to America than America was to Roger."

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office initially framed the fatal shooting as self-defense.

"Hearing sounds of a disturbance, he reacted in self defense after he encountered a 23-year old man armed with a gun and after the deputy had identified himself as law enforcement," a May 4 statement from the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office read.

The two narratives illustrate a problem Reason has written about time and time again: The government insists that its citizens have a Second Amendment right to own guns and defend their homes with them, but it also insists that it's reasonable for police to respond with deadly force when they're startled by the sight of a gun, or what could be a gun but might be a harmless object, or the knowledge that a gun is nearby, as in the case of Philando Castile.
Last year police in Farmington, New Mexico, fatally shot a man while responding to a domestic disturbance call at the wrong house, after the man showed up at the door holding a gun.

In 2022, Florida resident Corey Marioneaux Jr. was charged with attempted murder of a police officer for shooting a gun at SWAT team officers who had just broken through his front door with a battering ram at 5 a.m. The charges against Marioneaux were later dropped, and an internal review found no wrongdoing on the part of the police either—a simple misunderstanding that could have killed someone.

That same year, a Minneapolis Police Department officer shot and killed 22-year-old Amir Locke during the execution of a no-knock raid. Locke, who was not named in the search warrant, appeared to be asleep under a blanket on a couch. As police entered the room, he put his hand on the barrel of a handgun, and an officer shot him three times.

In 2006, former Reason writer Radley Balko detailed the case of Cory Maye, a Mississippi man sentenced to death for fatally shooting a police officer during a no-knock drug raid.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis relentlessly brags about "Free Florida," a supposed refuge from liberal busybodies, where things like owning a gun and not eating vat-grown meat are sacred. The title of his book was in fact The Courage to Be Free. But DeSantis has no courage when it comes to the police. His only priority is giving law enforcement more privileges and insulation from civilian accountability. 

Roger Fortson lived in this very same Florida. Now his name will be added to the long list of people who were killed for doing something they were assured was their right as free citizens of the United States.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Search This Blog

ARCHIVE List 2011 - Present