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Family of man killed by police responding to wrong house in New Mexico files lawsuit

The family of a man fatally shot in New Mexico by police officersresponding to the wrong house sued the department for wrongful death and other claims in federal court, according to a complaint filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court of New Mexico.

Robert Dotson, 52, was shot and killed in the doorway of his house in Farmington after local police officers opened fire after they said they saw he had a gun.

Police knocked on Dotson’s door at 11:30 p.m. on April 5, according to the complaint filed in court. Dotson grabbed his gun from the top of the refrigerator and went to open the front door. The complaint says “police vehicles were parked down the street and did not have their lights on.”

Three officers standing outside the door immediately opened fire, according to the complaint. Dotson was hit by 12 bullets. His wife, Kimberly, wearing just her robe, came down the stairs to find out what happened, the complaint says, and the officers fired an additional 19 bullets at her but missed.

Police handcuffed the wife and her two children and placed them in separate vehicles and took them to the police station, according to the complaint. “There was no attempt, or even apparently a thought, about preserving the dignity” of the new widow and her family, the complaint says.

New Mexico State Police issued a statement saying that Farmington police were responding to a domestic violence call but went to the wrong address.

The statement said the officers identified themselves as police, but no one answered. Body camera footage shows that as the officers backed away from the house, the homeowner opened the screen door armed with a handgun.

In a video statement, Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe acknowledged the mistake and said he was “heartbroken by the circumstances.”

Reporting was contributed by Stephen Smith.

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