Family sues after man was fatally shot by officers responding to wrong house

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FARMINGTON, N.M. — A civil lawsuit filed in federal court Friday details the night the Dotson family changed forever.

The nightmare began with a late-night knock at the Dotson’s door on April 5. Standing outside their home were three Farmington police officers – Daniel Estrada, Dylan Goodluck, and Waylon Wassan. But the Dotsons wouldn’t know that until it was too late.

Police said the officers were responding to a domestic violence call, but they made a mistake and went to the wrong house.

It’s a mistake that cost the Dotson family one of their loved ones – Robert Dotson. Doug Perrin and Tom Clark represent the Dotson family, and filed a lawsuit against the three officers and the city of Farmington.

“He was killed in the doorway of his own home and the police were at the wrong house. He was well within his right to have a handgun and he was shot dead for no good reason other than the police officer panicked and shot him,” Attorney Tom Clark said.

The attorney for the officers, Luis Robles, said it was Dotson who made the mistake. He stated it could have all been avoided if Dotson looked out his window to see who was on the other side of the door.

“Answering the door with a gun and then pointing it at the person on the other side of the door is what makes this case tragic,” Robles said.

The lawsuit states the family never heard the officers identify themselves from the second level of their home, and Dotson grabbed his gun for protection.

Robles said the officers were within their right to protect themselves.

“The law that essentially governs an officer’s use of deadly force is that when an officer has probable cause to believe that when a person poses a deadly threat to an officer the officer can defend themselves as well as the other officers,” he said.

The Dotson family hopes the lawsuit keeps another similar tragedy from happening. It calls the officers’ conduct shameful, thoughtless, unreasonable, and murderous. They want change to come to the Farmington Police Department in the form of better training and hiring practices.

“I think one of the major goals here is to focus on why this happened, how it happened, and how you can prevent the suffering of another family,” Clark said.

Attorneys for both parties say technology will help their case. Police body camera video and the family’s Ring doorbell footage leave little to the imagination.

Robles has 90 days to file his answer to the lawsuit.