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Family seeks murder charges in Farmington police shooting, chief’s resignation

Legal team demands justice, plans to sue police department after death of Robert Dotson
Officer 1’s bodycam footage shows the 5305 Valley View Ave. address as the three officers approach the home of Robert Dotson on April 5. (Screenshot from bodycam footage)

The family of Robert Dotson, 52, has hired a legal firm in California to represent them after three Farmington Police Department officers went to the wrong house on April 5 and shot and killed Dotson when he came to his door reportedly armed with a gun.

Shon Northam and Mark Reichel are asking for the resignation of Farmington Police Chief Steven Hebbe and requesting the 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office bring second-degree murder charges against the officers involved.

In addition, the Northam, who was a special prosecutor for the state of California, is requesting the U.S. District Attorney of New Mexico to bring federal charges against the officers involved, claiming a federal civil rights violation.

Apr 14, 2023
Video: Chief releases body camera footage of Farmington police shooting

“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. “We demand that changes. We want what happened to Robbie to also result in a better community for everyone in Farmington.”

In a March 2023 Citizens Police Advisory Commission meeting, it was reported “use of force” by officers increased in the past year, rising from nine in January 2022 to 10 in January 2023 and from five in February 2022 to nine in February 2023.

Officers’ use of force also increased, rising from 18 in January 2022 to 22 in January 2023 and from 12 in February 2022 to 13 in February 2023. The “application of force” also increased, rising from 24 in January 2022 to 29 in January 2023.

There were no cases of impact weapon use by officers in January 2023 or in February 2023.

Apr 14, 2023
Dispatch recording reveals confusion during Farmington police shooting

Dotson’s legal team said Ring camera footage showed a 10-second delay from officers laughing and joking near Dotson’s front door to Dotson opening the door.

“Robbie was immediately blinded by flashlights. Instead of telling Robbie that it was the police at his door in the dark and close to midnight, the officers instead yelled ‘(expletive)’ and ‘hey’ and ‘heads up’ and then the officers opened fire murdering Robbie Dotson,” according to the news release.

“We are calling for the resignation of the police chief based on the obvious malfeasance in running the department. We also demand the City Council investigate the extensive amount of excessive force claims against the police department, and in fact, corruption within the department to cover up their constant malfeasance,” said Northam.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing and being conducted by New Mexico State Police.

5305 Valley View Ave., where police attempted to mistakenly make contact with the resident regarding the reported domestic violence situation, was where Robert Dotson, 52, was shot and killed.

“State police are still putting everything together. We don’t want to run off of speculation,” District Attorney Rick Tedrow said. “We want the investigation to be complete before it’s reviewed. That is a best practice for all investigations.”

Tedrow said his office takes officer-involved shootings seriously. “We want all the evidence when it’s complete and then, do a thorough review at that time.”

Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes was contacted for comments regarding Northam and Reichel’s requests of the police chief and Farmington City Council. He has yet to comment.

The family has established a website, Justice for Robbie, and Facebook page that will provide updates on the progress of the case.