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Family of Farmington man shot by officers will sue city and police

Kimberly Dotson, with her children Julia Dotson and Zach Mora-Dotson, spoke at a press conference April 20 and called for major reform within Farmington Police Department. (Debra Mayeux/Special to the Tri-City Record)
Kimberly Dotson recalls the night her husband was killed

Five months ago, Kimberly Dotson sat in bed with her husband, Robert, making plans for the next few days. It was late – almost midnight – when they heard a knock at the front door.

Robert Dotson “grabbed his robe and put it on. He got down to the middle landing and asked, ‘Is your gun on the fridge?’” Kimberly said yes.

Those were the last words the couple shared.

When Robert Dotson, 52, opened the door with the gun in his hands, he was shot and killed by Farmington police officers. The three officers involved in the shooting were identified as Waylon Wasson, Daniel Estrada and Dylan Goodluck.

The police officers had mistakenly gone to the Dotsons’ home late April 5 in response to a dispatch call about domestic violence at the home at 5308 Valley View Ave. Dotson was shot at the door of his home across the street at 5305 Valley View Ave.

“I lost my life partner. I’m still very lost without him. I can’t work. I’m doing what I can,” Kimberly Dotson said in a Sept. 13 interview at the office of her attorney, Mark Curnutt. During the interview, Curnutt said the Dotson family on Friday, Sept. 15, would file a “wrongful death” lawsuit naming the city of Farmington and Farmington officers Wasson, Estrada and Goodluck.

The lawsuit is seeking damages for deprivation of civil rights and injuries pursuant to the New Mexico Tort Claims Act.

Kimberly Dotson added that no one from the city of Farmington reached out to her at any time after the incident.

“Not saying anything shows a complete lack of empathy,” Curnutt said, adding the family has concerns because the three officers are back on the job.

“There’s a pending criminal investigation from the Attorney General’s Office and these officers are back on active duty,” Curnutt said, adding that Goodluck, who was in training at the time of the shooting, has been “promoted” to the position of officer.

“I have a plethora of emotions on that,” Kimberly Dotson said. “I’m scared not only for myself but everybody in the community’s safety. If these people would have done their jobs correctly the first time, we would not be here.”

“I cannot fathom it in my head.”

Kimberly Dotson wanted to share the story of the night that changed everything in her life, and she wanted people to know that she and her late husband have a son who works in law enforcement. “We are not anti-police,” she said.

The night of the shooting

Her previously unreported account of the night her husband was killed tells a tragic story of a wife and two teenage children who lost a husband and father in a police shooting, and were separated and detained overnight.

The night of April 5, Kimberly Dotson said the couple were startled by someone at their door before midnight. They were upstairs and did not hear police announce themselves, and the police vehicles were parked in the street without their lights on, according to the lawsuit.

“We don’t get people knocking on our door that late at night,” Kimberly Dotson said. “It was a little attention-grabbing.”

The Dotsons’ Dodge truck had been stolen from their driveway a few months earlier, and transients sometimes walked up and down the street. The Dotsons had reason to be on their guard.

“For personal protection, he (Robert Dotson) carried his handgun with him, which was kept on the top of the refrigerator in the Dotson residence, not knowing what he might encounter at that late hour,” the lawsuit stated.

When Robert Dotson opened the door, he had the gun in his hand. The lawsuit claimed police did not announce themselves, but discharged their weapons, “firing 12 bullets into the body of Robert Dotson, killing him.”

When the gunshots rang out that night, Kimberly Dotson said she didn’t know who was at the door, and she didn’t know who had shot her husband.

She fired the gun as well. Police fired “another 19 rounds” at her, but she was not hit, the lawsuit stated.

Police then announced themselves, according to the lawsuit.

Kimberly Dotson was an ER trauma nurse by profession. “I knew my husband was killed. I didn’t know who killed him.”

She called out for help, but was arrested.

“I was very terrified. I felt I was treated very poorly. At one point they were yelling at me to walk down the side of the garage,” she said.

Clothed only in a robe that was covered in her husband’s blood, she was placed in handcuffs. She said the robe fell down, exposing her chest.

“I was begging them to please have the decency to cover me up,” she said, adding the police did not. “They put me in the back of the police car.”

She estimated that the time of her arrest was about midnight, and that she was left in the car for about 45 minutes to an hour.

She did not know where her teenage children were.

“No one was communicating with me,” Kimberly said.

“They took me to the police department, and they put me in a little room with two cheap chairs and a desk,” she said. “I was still in my bloody robe.”

While she waited for news, her two teenage children were put in the back of a police car and taken to the police department.

“They kept the kids on the other side of the building in a lounge-type room with a couch,” she said.

Her mother, Charlotte Horsley, was contacted and came to the Farmington Police Department.

“They detained the kids for over an hour before they allowed me to be with the kids,” Horsley said. “They told us we could not discuss anything that happened that night. They had a police officer standing at the door listening, and they had a camera in the room as well.”

It was about 3 or 4 a.m. April 6, when Kimberly said they told her that Horsley and her older son were there with the teenage children.

A New Mexico State Police officer told her the police shot and killed her husband, and then Kimberly was reunited with her children. She was still wearing the bloody robe when she told her daughter about Robert Dotson’s death.

“My daughter asked, ‘Where’s Daddy,’ and I said, ‘Baby, Daddy’s gone,’ and my daughter fell to her knees,” Kimberly Dotson said.

When her son asked who had killed their father, she told him the Farmington Police. They were in a room surrounded by police officers, and her older son, who is a police officer with another agency, “had to calm him down,” Kimberly Dotson said.

Kimberly Dotson remained in the robe until it was collected as evidence, and said she was given scrubs from the hospital to wear before being allowed to leave the police station at 8 a.m. April 6.

Kimberly Dotson later found out that Wasson, Estrada and Goodluck “did not initially disclose that they were at the wrong address, which was the error leading to the tragic result and without which it would not have occurred. The officers at the wrong address was discovered by other officers who arrived at the scene,” the lawsuit stated.

Since that day, Kimberly Dotson said she has been unable to return to her job as an ER trauma nurse.

“I had a love and passion for my job, and I’ve not been able to do this any longer,” she said.

Instead, she and her mother went into business together. They opened Stained Glass Concepts, a stained glass store on East Main Street.

“My mom taught me how to do it years and years ago. We teach classes on fusing and sell supplies,” Kimberly said.

She was asked whether the new work has given her peace.

“There is no peace. It is a distraction,” she said.

Kimberly Dotson and her children are seeking compensatory damages for the loss of their husband and father as well as for loss of the couple’s wages and emotional distress.

Kimberly Doston expressed her anger and desire for no other family to have to experience a similar tragedy at Thursday’s press conference. Debra Mayeux/Tri-City Record
Kimberly Dotson, with her children Julia Dotson and Zach Mora-Dotson, spoke at a press conference April 20 and called for major reform within Farmington Police Department. Debra Mayeux/Tri-City Record
Robert Dotson, in a family photo provided by Kimberly Dotson. (Courtesy photo)
Robert and Kimberly Dotson, in a family photo provided by Kimberly Dotson. (Courtesy photo)
Robert and Kimberly Dotson