In Farmington, New Mexico, a grave injustice unfolded – one that strikes at the heart of our civil liberties. The Dotson family, seeking only the tranquility of their home, was caught in a nightmare when the police arrived at their doorstep, tragically responding to the wrong address. Now, they seek justice against the city of Farmington and the officers involved.
FILE - In this image taken from body camera video provided by the Farmington Police Department, a police officer knocks on the door of the wrong address in response to a domestic violence call, in Farmington, N.M., late April 5, 2023. Moments later, the homeowner was fatally shot by police after appearing at the door armed with a handgun. (Farmington Police Department via AP, File)
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, the Dotson family contends that their fundamental civil rights were violated that fateful night in April, according to AP NEWS today. The officers arrived at the Dotson residence after receiving a domestic violence call from a neighboring home. Their actions that night caused the death of Robert Dotson.
As the clock struck late, Robert Dotson and his wife were upstairs, unaware of the impending chaos. Upon hearing what they believed to be a knock, Robert, out of concern for his family's safety, descended the stairs and retrieved his handgun.
Neither Robert nor his wife could view their Ring doorbell camera footage before opening the door. The video footage captured the officers training their flashlights on the door as Robert opened it. Tragically, this encounter ended in a hail of gunfire, with Robert Dotson being shot twelve times by police officers.
The lawsuit contends that the officer's actions that night were unreasonable and placed Robert Dotson's life and the lives of his family in grave danger. Their extreme and avoidable actions demonstrate a shocking disregard for the rights of the Dotson family and the sanctity of Robert Dotson's life.
The police chief characterized the incident as tragic and vowed cooperation with investigations, but the fact remains that the incident never had to happen. They claimed the lead officer's computer-aided dispatch system led to a mapping error that placed the officers at the wrong address.
The lawsuit further highlights the distressing aftermath of the incident. Blinded by the officers' flashlights, Robert Dotson's wife, clad in only a robe, ventured downstairs to find her husband gravely wounded. She fired outside in fear and confusion, unaware of who lurked in the darkness. All 19 rounds fired by the police missed her.
Adding to the tragic sequence of events, the Dotson family was handcuffed and taken to the police station for questioning rather than receiving immediate assistance. The officers initially failed to disclose their mistake, making the night worse.
We must scrutinize the training and oversight within the Farmington Police Department regarding the use of force. This case serves as a sobering reminder that the state gets it wrong too often for them to continue to have a monopoly on violence. And what happened at the home they were initially called to respond to?
In seeking justice for the Dotson family, we must work towards deterring other cities and police departments from this kind of conduct in the future. The Dotson family's tragedy must catalyze change in how law enforcement operates; there needs to be a severe wake-call to safeguard our rights and lives against such avoidable murders by the state.
Let us support justice for the Dotson Family and anyone else this happens to. State-sanctioned murder is wrong and should be treated as a crime. None of us could get away with doing the same thing the police officers did that night, and neither should they.
Doni Anthony (Doni The Don)
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