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Body Cam Footage: Police Mistake Leads to Dead Homeowner

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Body cam footage reveals a New Mexico homeowner was shot and killed last month when officers mistakenly went to the wrong address.

The Farmington Police Department released the footage, which showed the officers responding to a 911 call. Apparently, they arrived at the address late at night, and after knocking three times, the door remained unanswered.

At this point, the officers contacted dispatch to double-check the address. They requested that dispatch call the 911 caller back.

When the officers realized they were at the wrong address, they began to back away.

The door opened, and the body cam footage shows the homeowner, Robert Dotson, holding a firearm.

All three officers started yelling and fired shots. Dotson, positioned at the door, was hit.

He was subsequently pronounced dead. Following this his wife began firing from inside the house, according to reports.

CBS News indicated that dispatch was again called by Dotson’s daughter, “There were gunshots in the house and my dad is dead.” 

AFTERMATH

In the aftermath of the disaster, FPD released the body cam footage and a statement.

Fox News says the police “recognize the severity of the incident.” 

FPD Chief Steve Hebbe stated, “We will do everything we can to ensure a fuller understanding of what took place.”

Luis Robles, an attorney for the three officers, claims that the shots fired were justifiable.

We learned from CNN that the Dotson family attorneys, Mark Reichel and Shon Northam, argued otherwise.

“The FPD’s false narrative easily is debunked and disproved simply by reviewing the body camera footage and Ring camera footage,” they said in a statement.

THE STARK REALITY

Statistics show that this kind of incident may be happening far more often than anyone would like. According to Prison Policy Initiative, the fatality numbers for bystanders and civilians killed by police are far higher in the U.S. than in other countries.

The United States 2019 census showed that there had been 1,099 civilian deaths as a result of police shootings. Of course, the question is how many of those were legitimately justified (e.g. cop shooting armed criminal) versus accidental (e.g. cops go to the wrong house and shoot innocent victim). It wasn’t immediately clear.

So far in 2023, there have been an estimated 254 people killed by police. Mapping Police Violence says that there have been only five days this year where someone wasn’t killed by law enforcement.

In a 2019 article, Time magazine posited that one reason police make so many mistakes is that the threshold for lawful use of force is too low.

From the Time article:

Under use-of-force standards set by at least two U.S. Supreme Court cases in the 1980s, police officers may be justified in using lethal force when they have reason to believe there is a credible and immediate threat to themselves or others. That threshold, critics say, makes it hard to prosecute officers or even challenge them. “It’s a free get-out-of-jail pass from the highest court in America,” says attorney Ben Crump, who has represented several families in high-profile cases involving police use-of-force, including the family of Michael Brown.

As of now, it remains unclear whether any charges will be brought forward in relation to the shooting in New Mexico.

What are your thoughts about this incident? Also, do you feel the police are too quick to pull the trigger? Should there be a higher bar governing the use of deadly force for LEOs?

is a student, an avid shooter, and a pro-2A advocate.

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