Please note, video footage contains graphic images as well as strong language that may be disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.
Police Chief Steve Hebbe is today releasing records, including body-worn camera footage, from an incident that occurred on April 5 that led to the death of a resident.
The family of Mr. Robert Dotson, accompanied by their attorney, reviewed the video footage at the San Juan County District Attorney’s Office prior to its public release. The Farmington Police Department continues to offer its sincere condolences to the family during this difficult time.
As with all officer-involved shootings, the investigation is being conducted by an outside agency. The investigation is being led by the New Mexico State Police and remains active and ongoing. The Farmington Police Department is cooperating fully with the State Police as the investigation continues.
Consistent with the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act, and out of a desire to be forthcoming and transparent with the Farmington community, the general public, and the news media, Chief Hebbe today ordered the release of body-worn camera footage and 911 audio that are relevant to this investigation and that show the April 5 response to Valley View Avenue in greater detail.
Careful consideration was made prior to the release of these records. The Farmington Police Department has consulted with the New Mexico State Police to ensure that the release of such records will not negatively impact the integrity of the ongoing investigation.
The department expects to release additional records and files related to the event, including supplemental police reports, once they undergo review by legal counsel and any legally necessary redactions.
In addition to the body-worn camera footage, the Farmington Police Department is today also releasing the recordings of the related 911 calls for service to the San Juan County Communications Authority.
The footage being publicly released is the raw body-worn camera footage from the three primary officers who responded to the initial call. In addition to the raw footage, a contextual version is provided.
Body-worn cameras provide a fixed view and are positioned mid-torso on officers’ uniforms.
The names of the three officers involved cannot be released due to the current status of the ongoing investigation. The names of the officers are redacted visually from the body-worn camera footage, as well as from the audio as the officers converse on scene. The name of the individual who originally called 911 has also been redacted. The body of the resident is blurred in the raw footage.
On April 5, at approximately 11:30 p.m., officers were dispatched to a report of domestic violence at 5308 Valley View Ave. The footage begins when three Farmington officers arrive on Valley View Avenue. They approach the house located at 5305 Valley View Ave. Why officers approached the wrong address remains part of the ongoing investigation.
The footage continues, showing officers approach the door at 5305 Valley View Ave. An officer knocks on the door and announces himself as Farmington Police on three separate occasions. The officer also requests confirmation from dispatch on the address. The three officers can be heard discussing the address. Officers begin to back away from the door. Approximately four seconds later, Mr. Dotson opens the screen door, and points a firearm at the officers. Officers draw their firearms and fire their weapons, fatally striking Mr. Dotson.
About a minute later, a woman, later identified as Mr. Dotson’s wife, appears at the front door with a firearm and begins firing at officers, who return fire. The contextual footage ends following the conclusion of shots being exchanged. The raw footage ends as officers meet with a supervisor to give their statements.
All three officers fired their weapons during the incident. How many shots were fired by Farmington Officers is part of the State Police investigation.
Two of the officers have been with the department for approximately five years. The third officer has been with the department for approximately three years. All three officers were placed on paid administrative leave for the length of the investigation, per department policy.
Farmington Police later responded to 5308 Valley View Ave., the location of the original call. Officers spoke to occupants and made a report of the incident. No one was hurt and no arrests were made in that incident.
“All of us – the men and women of the Farmington Police Department – recognize the severity of this incident. We will do everything possible to more fully understand what transpired here,” Chief 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. We will continue to provide updates as we are able.”
Additional information and records will be released as soon as they are available for lawful release.
The audio in the videos for Officers 2 and 3 are not synched properly due to a technical issue.
Audio of 911 calls