In a heartbreaking incident, Robert Dotson, a homeowner in Farmington, New Mexico, lost his life on the night of April 5th. Police officers, responding to a call, tragically entered the wrong house, leading to a fatal encounter with the homeowner, who was armed with a handgun. The released body camera footage reveals a critical discussion among officers about whether they were at the correct location just moments before the door was opened, resulting in the fatal shooting.
The Wrong Address
Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe confirmed that the officers were indeed at the wrong address during the incident. Robert Dotson, a 52-year-old homeowner, tragically lost his life in this unfortunate turn of events. On Friday, Farmington police released a total of six videos related to the incident. These included individual body camera footage from each of the three responding officers, as well as slow-motion videos from each perspective. The videos provided a comprehensive view of the encounter, with each officer’s footage spanning approximately 20 minutes.
Police Chief’s Statement
In a statement on Friday, Chief Hebbe expressed his condolences to the Dotson family and conveyed his deep regret for the tragic outcome. He acknowledged the gravity of the situation and its profound impact on the victim’s family.
The New Mexico State Police are currently leading the investigation into the shooting. According to officials, the initial call was related to a domestic violence incident at a specific address, which was reported around 11:30 pm. However, due to a grave error, the responding officers mistakenly arrived at another house, which appeared to be located across the street from the intended location.
Critical Moments Captured
The released video footage provides a harrowing account of the moments leading up to the shooting. An officer can be seen knocking on the door of the wrong address three times, posing as a police official. The video also captures a discussion between the knocking officer and another officer (not shown) regarding the address. In the footage, the knocking officer appears to laugh after being corrected about the address but reacts with an expletive as the door begins to open. The video captures the officer backing up and shining a flashlight at the door as it slowly opens.
Inside the home, a woman is heard pleading for help, mentioning that her children are upstairs. Police radio communication indicates the presence of three children upstairs in the home. The video further shows Robert Dotson on the ground inside the home, wearing a robe, with a handgun lying on the floor beside him. Tragically, all three officers present at the scene discharged their firearms during the incident. The exact number of shots fired is currently under investigation.
Awaiting Investigation Outcome
The findings of the shooting investigation by the state police will be shared with the district attorney’s office, which will ultimately determine whether the shooting was justified. Farmington, located in the northwestern part of New Mexico, is a community of approximately 46,000 residents.
This unfortunate incident serves as a grim reminder of the profound consequences that can result from mistakes in law enforcement operations. As investigations continue, the Dotson family and the community at large await answers and resolution in this tragic case.