Police in Farmington, New Mexico, fatally shot a man Wednesday night after approaching the wrong home during a domestic violence call, in an incident that the police chief called "unbelievably tragic."
The deadly incident occurred around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday after Farmington police officers responded to the call in the city of around 46,000 in the northwestern part of the state, officials said.
“Once on scene, officers mistakenly approached” New Mexico State Police, which is investigating the shooting, said in a statement.
The homeowner of the incorrect residence, Robert Dotson, 52, eventually opened the door holding a handgun, state police said, and was fatally shot.
Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe acknowledged in a video Thursday that officers mistakenly went to the wrong address.
“Mr. Dotson was not the subject of the call that our officers were responding to, and this ending is just unbelievably tragic,” Hebbe said. “I’m extremely sorry that we’re in this position. We’ll find more facts as we go through the investigation.”
Based on the addresses given by state police, the two homes appear to be across the street and diagonal from each other.
When the Farmington officers arrived at the wrong home, they announced they were there, there was no answer, and the officers asked dispatch to call the person who had reported the domestic violence, according to state police.
Body camera footage showed that as the officers backed away from the home, Dotson "opened the screen door armed with a handgun,” state police said.
One or more officers fired at least one round, killing Dotson, state police said.
Dotson’s wife then fired from the doorway, officers shot back, and she dropped the gun when she realized they were police, state police said. She was not hurt.
Hebbe, the Farmington police chief, said body camera video will be released after the officers' statements, likely within a week. He called it "a very dark day."
"I extend nothing but my deepest condolences to the Dotson family," he said. "There's nothing I can say that will make this better. It’s a terrible event, and I’m heartbroken by it.”
The New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau was called in to investigate the Farmington police shooting, the state law enforcement agency said.
Farmington is a city in the northwestern part of New Mexico, around 50 miles east of the Arizona border.
CORRECTION (April 4, 2023, 7:55 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated where Farmington is. It is in northwestern New Mexico, not northeastern New Mexico.