Farmington family files lawsuit over fatal police shooting at wrong house

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Sep. 15—The family of a 52-year-old Farmington man fatally shot by police officers who went to the wrong home in response to a caller’s report of domestic violence has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Farmington and the three officers who killed him.

It was about 11:30 p.m. April 5 when police knocked on the Dotson family’s door, according to the civil complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

Robert Dotson “put on his robe and went downstairs to answer the knock. For personal protection, he carried his handgun with him which was kept on top of the refrigerator … not knowing what he might encounter at that late hour,” the lawsuit says.

At about the same time, the suit says, Officers Daniel Estrada, Dylan Goodluck and Waylon Wasson”were realizing they were at the wrong residence and were laughing about it.” They had been dispatched to a home down the block and across the street, 5308 Valley View, but had mistakenly arrived at the Dotsons’ residence, 5305 Valley View.

“Mr. Dotson opened his front door and was blinded by police flashlights,” the lawsuit says. “The police did not announce themselves, and Mr. Dotson had no idea who was in his yard shining bright lights at him.

“Seeing the gun in Mr. Dotson’s hand, the Farmington police officers opened fire without warning, immediately firing 12 bullets into the body of Robert Dotson, killing him,” the suit continues.

The officers still had not announced themselves as police, according to the lawsuit, filed by Santa Fe attorneys Doug Perrin and Thomas Clark. “Mr. Dotson did not shoot.”

Having heard the shots, the lawsuit says, Kimberly Dotson came downstairs in her robe and saw her husband lying in his blood in the doorway. Still not knowing what had happened, she “fired outside at whoever had shot her husband.”

The three Farmington officers fired 19 rounds at her, the lawsuits says, but she was not struck by a bullet.

When the officers finally announced themselves, Kimberly Dotson still did not realize what had happened and asked for their help, telling them someone had killed her husband, according to the complaint.

The officers did not initially disclose they were at the wrong address, acknowledge their error or attempt to protect or console Kimberly Dotson and the couple’s two children, it says. Rather, they handcuffed all three family members and took them to the police station for questioning.

The lawsuit accuses the officers of willful, malicious and reckless conduct and seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages “to punish the defendants and deter others cities, police departments and police officers from such shameful, thoughtless, unreasonable and murderous conduct.”

A spokeswoman for the Farmington Police Department directed questions to attorney Luis Robles, who said Friday the officers weren’t the only ones who made a mistake that night; Robert Dotson did, too, he said.

“Mr. Dotson took it upon himself to answer the door with a gun, so in terms of mistakes, Mr. Dotson made a terrible misjudgment by opening the door and pointing a gun at law enforcement officers when instead he could have looked at his Ring camera feed or looked through the window and seen who was there,” said Robles, who represents the officers and the city.

“But instead of doing what any of us might do before opening the door at night, he opened it with a gun, pointing at my clients,” Robles said.

As for the allegation the officers didn’t immediately disclose to Kimberly Dotson they were at the wrong house, Robles said, “That’s a strange allegation. Shooting at them doesn’t lend itself to a conversation about what had just happened.”

The three officers initially were placed on leave following the incident, but a department spokeswoman said in an email Estrada and Goodluck have been returned to full duty, while Wasson “is on a temporary assignment.”

Robles said Friday it was his understanding Wasson had taken leave for a reason unrelated to the shooting.

EMEA Tribune is not involved in this news article, it is taken from our partners and or from the News Agencies. Copyright and Credit go to the News Agencies, email [email protected]

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