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Killing of an airman by Florida deputy is among cases of Black people being shot in their homes

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The fatal shooting of a U.S. Air Force airman at his off-base apartment in the Florida Panhandle by a sheriff’s deputy brings to mind other instances of Black people being killed by law enforcement in their own homes as they’re going about their day.

Senior Airman Roger Fortson, 23, was killed on May 3 in his apartment in Fort Walton Beach. Body camera video viewed by reporters Thursday shows the Okaloosa County deputy arriving at the apartment building and speaking to a woman who described someone hearing an argument. The deputy then went up an elevator and walked down an outdoor hallway.

On the body camera video, the deputy can be heard yelling that he was from the sheriff’s department and knocking, while also stepping seemingly out of view of the door. The video then shows Fortson opening the door with what appears to be a gun in his hand pointed toward the ground.

The deputy quickly fires several shots, yelling for Fortson to drop the gun after he is already on the ground wounded.

Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Fortson’s family, has said Fortson was talking to his girlfriend on FaceTime and grabbed his gun because he heard someone outside his apartment.

Crump said in a Thursday statement that “we remain adamant” that law enforcement went to the wrong apartment. The sheriff rejects that assertion.

Here are some other cases:

BOTHAM JEAN

Botham Jean, a 26-year-old Black man, was fatally shot in 2018 by a white police officer who mistook his Dallas apartment for her own.

Amber Guyger was still in uniform after a long shift when she walked up to Jean’s apartment — which was on the fourth floor, directly above hers on the third — and found the door unlocked.

Jean, an accountant from the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia, had been eating a bowl of ice cream when Guyger entered his home and shot him. He was unarmed.

Guyger, the former officer, was found guilty in 2019 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

ATATIANA JEFFERSON

Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black woman, was fatally shot through a window at her home in 2019 by Aaron Dean, a white officer, as he responded to a nonemergency call about the door to her Fort Worth, Texas, home being open.

Body camera footage showed that Dean and a second officer didn’t identify themselves as police at the house. Both testified at Dean’s trial that they thought the house might have been burglarized and quietly moved into the fenced-off backyard looking for signs of forced entry.

Jefferson and her then-8-year-old nephew, Zion Carr, were up late playing video games. They’d left doors open to vent smoke after earlier burning hamburgers.

Carr testified that Jefferson took out her gun because she believed there was an intruder in the backyard. Dean fired a single shot through the window a split-second after shouting at Jefferson, who was inside, to show her hands.

Dean was found guilty of manslaughter in 2022 and the former officer was sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison.

AIYANA STANLEY-JONES

Aiyana Stanley-Jones, a 7-year-old Black girl, was fatally shot inside her family’s Detroit home in 2010 by police who burst into the wrong unit of a duplex while looking for a man suspected in a killing that had been committed days earlier. The suspect was eventually arrested in the second-floor unit of the duplex.

Aiyana was shot in the head while sleeping on a couch.

Joseph Weekley, a member of an elite police unit, was the first officer through the door of her home. Weekley, who is white, said he accidentally fired his gun during a struggle with Aiyana’s grandmother.

Weekley was charged with involuntary manslaughter but his first trial ended without a verdict in 2013 and his second ended in 2015 with a hung jury. During the second trial, a judge dismissed that charge.

BREONNA TAYLOR

Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was killed by police officers who knocked down the door to her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2020 while executing a drug search warrant that was later found to be flawed.

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a single shot that hit one of the officers as they came through the door of the apartment, and officers returned fire, striking Taylor in the apartment hallway multiple times.

Walker told police investigators that he heard knocking but did not hear police announce themselves. He said he was “scared to death,” so he grabbed his gun and when the door was knocked down, he fired a shot.

Officers found no drugs in Taylor’s apartment.

Former Louisville officer Brett Hankison, who is white, was found not guilty in 2022 on state charges that he endangered her neighbors when he opened fire. Some of his shots flew into a neighboring apartment, but none of them struck anyone.

Last year a jury deadlocked over federal civil rights charges that Hankison used excessive force that night. Federal prosecutors have said they intend to retry him.

Three other former officers involved in drawing up the warrant were charged in a separate federal case. One of them, Kelly Goodlett, has pleaded guilty to helping falsify the warrant. She’s expected to testify against the other two in the upcoming trial.

Associated Press

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