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New Mexico officers will not be charged in fatal shooting while responding to wrong house

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(NEW YORK) — Three New Mexico police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Robert Dotson while responding to the wrong home’s address will not be charged, according to a letter from the New Mexico Justice Department.

The shooting took place on April 5, 2023, when Farmington police officers, Daniel Estrada, Dylan Goodluck and Waylon Wasson, who were responding to a domestic violence call around 11:30 p.m. local time, mistakenly went to Dotson’s home — approaching house number 5305 instead of 5308, state police said, at the time.

Body camera footage released by the Farmington Police Department showed the officers knocking and announcing themselves several times, then debating whether they were at the right address after getting no response. As the officers were leaving, Dotson opened his screen door armed with a handgun. The officers opened fire, striking Dotson 12 times, according to a lawsuit filed by Dotson’s family in Sept. 2023. In court papers, the city and officers all deny wrongdoing.

Dotson was later pronounced dead at the scene.

After the initial shooting, Dotson’s wife, Kimberly, shot back at officers from the doorway, not knowing who had shot her husband, with officers returning fire, according to the lawsuit.

State police turned over their investigation into the shooting to the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office in May 2023.

On Jan. 26, Deputy Attorney General Greer E. Staley said an export report proved responding officers did not use excessive force when they discharged their weapons and shot Dotson, due to the fact that both Dotson and his wife were armed. The report “recognized that the officers’ initial approach to the Dotson home, although they erroneously approached the wrong house, was reasonable, appropriate and consistent with generally accepted police practices.”

“I appreciate the AG’s office and their exhaustive look at this case. At the same time, this was extremely tragic, and I continue to say that I am extremely sorry for the Dotson family’s loss,” said Farmington Police Chief Steven Hebbe in a statement to ABC News.

In the wrongful death lawsuit, Dotson’s family sued the city of Farmington as well as the responding officers. The lawsuit alleged that the city failed to properly train the officers in use of force, and that the three officers “acted unreasonably” and “applied excessive, unnecessary force.” The suit also alleged they deprived Dotson, a father of two, of his state constitutional rights, including the right to enjoy life and liberty.

“Legally, he was deprived of his life and liberty. His heirs were deprived of his love, affection, income,” Doug Perrin, an attorney representing Dotson’s family, said in a statement to Albuquerque ABC affiliate KOAT-TV in Sept. 2023.

All three officers remained employed by the city of Farmington and returned to work after the April 5 shooting, Luis Robles, an attorney for the city of Farmington, confirmed to ABC News at the time.

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