Police in New Mexico Fatally Shot a Man After Responding to a False Domestic Violence Call

A man was shot and killed by police after they arrived at the wrong location and entered his home in northwestern New Mexico, authorities said. Local and state police say that on Wednesday night at 11:30 p.m., officers from the Farmington Police Department responded to a call about domestic violence and found Robert Dotson, 52, dead when they arrived at his house instead of the one across the street.

“I am just heartbroken. … Mr. Dotson was not the subject of this call,” Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said during a Thursday video statement posted on Facebook. “This ending is just unbelievably tragic. I’m extremely sorry that we’re in this position.”

New Mexico State Police stated in a statement released on Thursday that police “mistakenly approached 5305 Valley View Avenue instead of 5308 Valley View Avenue” when they arrived in the area in Farmington, located approximately 150 miles northwest of Albuquerque.

New Mexico Police Shot and Killed a Man

When no one came to the door when the police knocked, they called the reporting party and asked them to come to the entrance. State police use body camera evidence in their claim that Dotson opened the door to his residence while armed with a revolver, and at least one officer fired at least one bullet, striking and killing Dotson at the scene.

Dotson’s wife reportedly exchanged gunfire with police while armed, but she escaped unharmed. “Once again, officer(s) fired. Once she realized that the individuals outside the residence were officers, she put the gun down and complied with the officer’s commands,” state police said in their statement.

According to the statement released by state police, the responding officers who were unharmed in the incident will not be named. The number of officers present and the exact number of shots fired remain unknown. Dotson may or may not have fired at the cops before he was shot and killed.

CNN has asked the New Mexico State Police to release the body camera footage through a public records request. As of next week, Hebbe stated Thursday, the shooting footage will be made public. “There’s nothing I can say that will make this better. It’s a terrible event, and I’m heartbroken over it,” Hebbe added.

The New Mexico State Police are currently looking into the shooting. State police have requested an investigation into the matter from the agency’s Investigative Bureau.

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The Second Such Instance This Week

Dotson’s death and other recent incidents show how hazardous it can be when police go up at the incorrect home and an armed citizen confronts officers they mistakenly believe to be criminals. When a police officer responds to a cry for help or carries out a prearranged arrest, he or she is taught to double-check the details of how they got there and make sure they are in the right place.

The fatal police shot on Wednesday followed a similarly contentious example of officials shooting the incorrect place the day before. Authorities said that during a training exercise in Boston on Tuesday, FBI and US Army tactical personnel mistakenly searched the incorrect hotel room and arrested a Delta Air Lines employee.

“Conducting special operations in urban environments has always been a training challenge,” said CNN law enforcement analyst John Miller. “The only way to replicate those challenges to operational security is to practice in real urban environments.”

Miller explains that before a prearranged invasion or raid, the planning mechanism normally includes multiple checks and verifications. Incorrect address targeting is not only embarrassing for departments and dangerous for officers and onlookers, but also very costly for taxpayers.

The Chicago City Council agreed to pay nearly $3 million to a nurse whose home was wrongly raided due to false information from an informant in December 2021. Anjanette Young was seen naked and distraught on police body camera footage as she was questioned by officials and handcuffed while attempting to explain that they had the wrong location.

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