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Farmington police chief: Officers shoot, kill wrong man

‘A dark day for Farmington Police,’ Hebbe says in Facebook post
In a video released on Facebook, Chief Hebbe confirmed that Robert Dotson, 52, was shot and later died during a police-involved shooting April 5.

Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe is calling April 5, “a dark day for Farmington Police,” after officers responded to a domestic violence call and reportedly shot and killed the wrong man.

Hebbe said police were called at 11:30 p.m. to a home in the 5300 block of Valley View, but they went to the wrong address.

Police initially were called to a possible domestic violence situation at 5308 Valley View Ave., but went to 5305 Valley View Ave., the residence of Robert Dotson, 52.

A caller reported a domestic violence situation to police at 5308 Valley View Ave. Police mistakenly responded to 5305 Valley View Ave. (Debra Mayeux/The Journal)
5305 Valley View Ave., where police mistakenly responded to the reported domestic violence situation, was where Robert Dotson, 52, was shot and killed. (Debra Mayeux/The Journal)

Hebbe said in a video statement on social media that officers made attempts to identify themselves as police officers while trying to make contact with the resident.

“What followed was a chaotic scene with officers retreating and opening fire,” Hebbe said, adding that Dotson was shot and died at the scene. “Mr. Dotson was not the subject of the call that our officers were responding to, and this ending is just unbelievably tragic. I’m extremely sorry that we are in this position.”

Farmington Police daily incident log shows that a call came in at 11:34 p.m. April 5 with the address associated with the call listed as 5308 Valley View Ave. A second call classified as “fight – domestic violence” was logged at 2:51 a.m. April 6 at the same address.

Shanice Gonzales, spokesperson for FPD, said that the original domestic violence call was investigated and “everybody is OK.”

“We’ll find more facts as we go through the investigation over the next several days,” Hebbe said. “We’ve continued to learn facts over the course of this day as we’ve looked at the incident and tried to understand what had happened and how it happened so fast.”

New Mexico State Police and Farmington Police were on scene all day on April 6, and New Mexico State Police are leading the investigation.

“Body camera footage shows as the officers backed away from 5305 Valley View Avenue, the homeowner, Robert Dotson, 52, opened the screen door armed with a handgun,” New Mexico State Police stated in a social media post. “At this point in the encounter, officer(s) fired at least one round from their duty weapon(s) striking Mr. Dotson.”

After the initial shooting, NMSP’s post stated that Dotson’s wife approached the doorway, also armed with a handgun, and fired from the doorway. Officers returned fire. The post stated that once Mrs. Dotson “realized the individuals outside the residence were police officers she put the gun down and complied with officers’ commands.”

The names of the officers involved have not been released, but Hebbe said more information will come as the investigation proceeds. His department also plans to release body camera video of the incident after officer statements are collected. The timeline could be within a week.

“This is an extremely traumatic event. I am just heartbroken by the circumstances surrounding this,” Hebbe said. “This is a very dark day for Farmington PD, for our community for the Dotson family. I extend nothing but my deepest condolences to the Dotson family. There is nothing I can say that will make this better.”