The Farmington Police Department in the US state of New Mexico has released body camera footage and 911 audio of an incident that resulted in the shooting of a man. The footage showed three officers knocking on the door of a house marked 5305, which was the wrong address, in response to a call about domestic violence from 5308 Valley View Avenue. The officers identified themselves and requested confirmation of the address from dispatch before a man opened the door and pointed a firearm at the officers. The officers drew their weapons and fired, resulting in the death of Robert Dotson. A woman, later identified as Mr Dotson’s wife, appeared at the door about a minute later and more shots were fired. Police said she fired a gun at the officers.
The department said the names of the three officers involved, which were redacted from the footage and audio, could not be released due to the ongoing investigation. It remains unclear why the officers, who are on paid leave for the length of the investigation, approached the wrong address, police said. In one of the 911 audio files released, Mr Dotson’s daughter can be heard crying before saying that her mother was screaming and her father had been shot.
The Farmington Police Department said it released the footage and audio under state law “and out of a desire to be forthcoming and transparent with the Farmington community, the general public, and the news media.” The department expressed condolences to the Dotson family and recognised the severity of the incident. Chief Steve Hebbe said, “Once again, we wish to express our condolences to the Dotson family and as your chief of police, I wish to convey how very sorry I am that this tragedy occurred.”
The incident is one of 14 “officer-involved incidents” in New Mexico this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive database. The database showed that there were an estimated 44,000 gun-related deaths in the United States last year, with about half of them murder cases, accidents, and self-defense, and half of them suicides. The archive also showed that more than 5,000 people in the United States have died of firearm-related violence in 2023.
The shooting of Robert Dotson by police officers in New Mexico has raised questions about the use of force by law enforcement officers. The incident highlights the dangers of responding to calls without verifying the correct address, and the risks involved in confronting individuals who are armed. The release of the body camera footage and 911 audio by the Farmington Police Department demonstrates a commitment to transparency and accountability, and provides valuable information to the public and the media. However, it also raises concerns about the use of redaction to conceal the identities of the officers involved, and the length of time it takes for investigations to be completed.
The incident is a reminder of the need for law enforcement agencies to review their policies and procedures, and to ensure that officers are properly trained in the use of force and de-escalation techniques. It also highlights the importance of community engagement and dialogue, and the need for police departments to build trust and confidence among the communities they serve. The shooting of Robert Dotson is a tragedy that should never have happened, and it is a sobering reminder of the need for greater accountability and transparency in law enforcement.