The day after Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe announced in a video statement that officers shot and killed Robert Dotson, members of his tight-knit neighborhood remembered him as the rope that tied everyone together.
Neighbors were shocked and saddened by an April 5 police-involved shooting that left Dotson dead. He was 52.
Shortly before midnight Wednesday, police officers responded to the wrong house during an investigation of a reported domestic abuse. They were called to 5308 Valley View Ave., but ended up at 5305 Valley View Ave., where Dotson lived with his family.
When Dotson answered the door with a firearm in hand, “officers fired at least one round from their duty weapon(s), striking Mr. Dotson,” according to a New Mexico State Police investigation. Dotson died at the scene.
The Dotsons moved into their home at 5305 Valley View about five years ago and quickly became friends with everyone on the block, according to several neighbors.
“They were awesome, amazing people,” neighbor and friend Krystal Rahm said about the family. “Everyone on the street is close knit. All of our kids know each other. They play sports together.”
Rahm characterized Robert as “super-helpful.”
Will Richardson, who lives across the street from Dotson, agreed, saying whenever he was out working in his yard, Robert would come over and ask if he could help. “He was a great guy,” Richardson said. “I can’t say enough good things about Kim (Dotson’s wife) and Robert. They were always watching out for everyone.”
Dotson even saved Richardson’s dog. The animal become trapped in an inflatable pool and was unable to escape. Dotson went to the home and managed to rescue the animal before it drowned.
“He was absolutely a great guy,” Richardson said.
On Wednesday, Hebbe said in a video statement on social media that officers made attempts to identify themselves as police officers while trying to make contact Dotson before he was shot.
“Mr. Dotson was not the subject of the call that our officers were responding to, and this ending is just unbelievably tragic. I’m extremely sorry that we are in this position,” Hebbe said.
Police said Dotson’s wife then fired a handgun from the door. Officers returned fire, and she put the gun down and complied with officers’ commands.”
Shanice Gonzales, spokesperson for FPD, said the original domestic violence call was investigated and “everybody is OK.”
Rahm described the scene that shook the neighborhood Wednesday night.
“There were lights everywhere,” she said.
When she left for work Thursday morning, there were “a lot” of police vehicles, both from FPD and New Mexico State Police, that were blocking off the street and nearby roads.
New Mexico State Police and Farmington Police were on scene all day Thursday, and New Mexico State Police was leading the investigation.
The names of the officers involved in the shooting have not been released. Police plan to release body camera video of the incident after officer statements are collected.