An attorney representing the three police officers in Farmington, New Mexico who opened fire on a homeowner after they responded to the wrong address claims the officers were “justified” in their actions.
The homeowner, 52-year-old Robert Dotson, was killed by police earlier this month after he answered his door while armed. The Farmington Police Department received a call about a domestic violence incident in the area but officers mistakenly went to Dotson’s home instead of a home across the street where the incident was reported, according to local and state police.
After Dotson was shot, his wife – also armed with a gun – exchanged gunfire with officers, authorities said. She was not injured.
“Mr. Dotson’s death was a tragedy, and our hearts go out to his family and loved ones,” said attorney Luis Robles, who is representing the officers. “However, it is important to remember that no one forced Mr. and Mrs. Dotson to point guns at the officers.”
After no one answered their knocks on the door during the April 5 incident, police officers asked a dispatcher for clarity on the address and to call the person who reported the incident and ask them to come to the front door, authorities said.
After several knocks, Dotson opened the door of his home while armed with a handgun. Three officers opened fire, killing Dotson at the scene, according to New Mexico State Police, citing body camera footage.
All three officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.
“The officers were clearly visible, calmly announced themselves multiple times, and did nothing to suggest that they were trying to force their way into the Dotsons’ home,” Robles said.
“There could be no doubt that they were police,” he said. “And yet Mr. and Mrs. Dotson made an incomprehensible decision that put themselves and these officers in grave danger. The officers’ actions were justified, and I stand by their decision to use deadly force.”
Attorneys representing the Dotson family are disputing the police account of events. One of the attorneys, Shon Northam, held a media conference Thursday and said the family was planning to take legal action.
“For quite some time, the residents of Farmington have been keenly aware of the wild use of force by the Farmington Police Department, with no accountability or justice provided for the victims,” Northam said in a statement. “We demand that changes. We want what happened to Robbie to also result in a better community for everyone in Farmington.”
Citing footage from a Ring camera at the home, Northam and fellow attorney Mark Reichel say the officers were “laughing, smirking, and joking” about being at the wrong house before the front door opened.
With Dotson “immediately blinded” by flashlights, the attorneys say the officers did not identify themselves and instead expressed surprise before opening fire.
The shooting is currently under investigation by the New Mexico State Police. The agency’s Investigations Bureau has been requested to probe the incident, state police said. Authorities have said it’s still unclear why the officers responded to the wrong address.