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New Mexico family sues police after man fatally shot by officers who entered the wrong house


The family of a New Mexico man who was fatally shot by police officers who responded to the wrong address has filed a lawsuit over what they say were “extreme and unreasonable actions” that led to his death .

Three Farmington police officers responding to a domestic violence call around 11:30 p.m. local time on April 5 mistakenly went to Robert Dotson’s home, approaching the number 5305 instead of 5308, state police said. Body camera footage released by police shows officers knocking on the door and announcing themselves several times, then wondering if they were at the right address after getting no response.

As the officers left, Dotson opened his screen door armed with a handgun. The officers opened fire, striking Dotson 12 times, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed Friday. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

In this body camera screenshot released by the Farmington Police Department, the homeowner opens the door as a police officer stands in the yard, April 5, 2023, in Farmington, New Mexico.

Farmington Police Department

After the first shooting, according to the complaint, Dotson’s wife fired from the door without knowing who had shot her husband, and the officers returned fire. Neither she nor the police officers were injured. She has not been charged with a crime, state police said.

The lawsuit alleges that the city failed to properly train officers in the use of force and that the three officers “acted unreasonably” and “applied excessive and unnecessary force.” It also alleges they deprived Dotson, a father of two, of his constitutional rights, including the right to enjoy life and liberty.

“Legally, he was deprived of his life and liberty. His heirs were deprived of his love, affection and income,” Doug Perrin, one of the attorneys representing the family, told KOAT. Albuquerque ABC affiliate.

The complaint alleges that the police did not announce themselves loudly enough. From the second floor of the house, Dotson and his wife reportedly did not hear the police announce themselves, only a possible knock at the door, at which point Dotson put on a bathrobe to go answer it.

“Mr. Dotson came down, he took a gun out of the refrigerator because he didn’t know who was behind the door. And when he opened the door, it was hell,” said Thomas Clark, a another lawyer representing the Dotson family. KOAT said.

PHOTO: Law enforcement officers investigate the scene of a police-involved shooting at the Wrong House in Farmington, New Mexico on April 6, 2023.

Law enforcement officers investigate the scene of a police-involved shooting at the Wrong House in Farmington, New Mexico on April 6, 2023.

KOAT

The complaint also claimed that the officers handcuffed and took Dotson’s wife and two children away for questioning, “rather than admitting their mistake or attempting to protect and comfort them.”

Luis Robles, attorney for the city of Farmington, and the three officers confirmed they were initially handcuffed, but did not know for how long.

The complaint, which seeks unspecified punitive damages, names the city of Farmington and the three police officers – Daniel Estrada, Dylan Goodluck and Waylon Wasson – as defendants.

Robles said the officers “had no choice but to use deadly force to defend themselves” when Dotson pointed a gun at them.

PHOTO: Law enforcement officers investigate the scene of a police-involved shooting at the Wrong House in Farmington, New Mexico on April 6, 2023.

Law enforcement officers investigate the scene of a police-involved shooting at the Wrong House in Farmington, New Mexico on April 6, 2023.

KOAT

“While this incident was tragic, the actions of our officers were justified,” Robles said in a statement to ABC News. “That evening and always, we strive to do what is right and we will always remain committed to the safety and well-being of our community.”

All three officers remain employed by the city as police officers, Robles said.

State police turned over their investigation into the shooting to the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office in May. ABC News has contacted the office for more information.

ABC News

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