Man Shot and Killed by Police Responding to Wrong Home

According to a statement from New Mexico Department Public Safety, a terrible series of events led to police shooting and killing a homeowner in Farmington, New Mexico. The incident is tragic and is yet another example of why we need to evaluate how we respond to someone at our door.

Photo: Farmington PD

Tragedy Unfolds in Farmington New Mexico—

The New Mexico Department of Public Safety statement says that based on the as-of-yet released body cam footage from the incident, New Mexico Police responded to a domestic disturbance call around 11:30 PM on Wednesday, April 5th. Officers confused the addresses and mistakenly approach the home across the street from where the call originated. Officers knocked on the front door and announced they were with the Farmington Police Department. When no one answered the door, officers asked dispatch to call the reporting party back and ask them to come to the door.

As officers stepped away from the door, the male homeowner opened the screen door, holding a handgun. One officer fired a single shot from his duty handgun, which struck the homeowner. The female homeowner also had a firearm and began shooting at police until she realized they were, in fact, officers.

Neither the woman nor officers sustained injuries, but the male homeowner suffered fatal injury and died on scene. Per procedure, the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau is investigating the incident, and determining if the officer’s actions were justified under law rest solely with the district attorney’s office.

What Went Wrong?

I’ve seen comments on other posts of this story like: “the police shot this man because they went to the wrong house.” I understand we often try to make sense of what led to a tragic outcome like this, but it’s not always that simple. And as a factual matter, police didn’t actually shoot the homeowner just because they went to the wrong house. While that was a factor, it wasen’t the reason. If we stick to that as the sole reason for the shooting, we won’t learn what we can do to avoid tragedies like this.

Officer’s Mistake- The Response:

The first mistake was that officers confuse the address and respond to the wrong house.

Officers aren’t expected to be perfect, but is responding to the wrong address a reasonable mistake? Under some circumstances it could be, and then in another circumstance maybe not. Sometimes mistakes are reasonable, and lead to lawful but awful consequences.

I’ve included a Google Maps overview screenshot of the two homes in relationship to each other. I also included some screenshots from various news agencies’ stories about the incident that show the home where the officer involved shooting (OIS) took place.

Overview of Farmington PD Valley View Ave OIS. (Google Maps)

The first screenshot is from KOAT7ActionNews. We can see the house numbers on the house near a walkway leading to the front door.

KOAT Action News

Screen grab from KOAT 7 Action News report on the shooting.

One of the following screen grabs is from the Durango Herald news, and the other from Google Maps. The images show the house number on both sides of the mailbox in front of the home.

the Durango Herald News

Photo Durango Herald.

location where farmington police shot homeowner

Photo Google Maps

I add the photos just for reference, but remember, the incident occurred at night, and these photos are what the location looks like in daylight.

It’s also important to understand that when responding to calls, it’s routine for officers to park a few houses away from the target address so they don’t roll into an ambush or give away their arrival. I don’t know if this is what the officers did that night.

A remedy is for the officer to check the house numbers and make sure it’s the address they are dispatched to. If in the time they exit the vehicle and walk to the house they transcribe or are unsure of the number, they should have dispatch confirm the address.

HomeOwner’s Mistake- The Response

The homeowners use a poor tactical approach to an unexpected late-night knock at the door.

Just like officers, we can’t expect homeowners to make perfect decisions. And just like officers, sometimes the mistakes are reasonable and lawful, but lead to disastrous outcomes.

In this post I wrote in 2020 called, Your Armed Response to the Late Night Knock at the Door Could Get You Killed I explained this very thing. While it’s certainly legal to walk around your home with a gun, even if the police are standing outside, it’s just not wise.

If the homeowners responded to the knock at the door with firearms, they must not have known who was knocking and weren’t expecting anyone. If you’re concerned enough to carry a firearm—and I’m not saying you shouldn’t—you shouldn’t open the door unless you know who is on the other side.

Security of your home is everyone’s responsibility. Similarly, they should know the family’s response plan.

This is a perfect example of how a doorbell camera works in your home-defense strategy. Before approaching the door, check the video and identify who is knocking. If you don’t have a doorbell camera, arm yourself, take a position of cover inside the home, and talk to the person through the door. If the people on the other side say they are the police, call the police and confirm.

As part of your strategy, learn if someone can see you approaching the front door, and if so, use curtains to obscure the view. Officers don’t have a right to blast anyone inside the home simply for having a gun in their hand, but they may. I’m not saying it’s right or legal in every circumstance, but that isn’t the point. The point is, it’s happened and when you’re dead, it doesn’t much matter if you’re right or wrong.

Complete Home Defense—

I suspect I’ll receive some of the same responses I did when I wrote the article mentioned above. While most were positive, many took what I said as defending the officers and blaming the homeowner. That wasn’t my intent then, and it’s not my intent now.

I worked as a patrol cop in a busy southern California municipal agency nearly every moment on the night shift. I am also a civilian who wants to be secure in my home and doesn’t want to be shot by police. I’ve seen it from both sides, and realize that sometimes humans make mistakes. Sometime a series of mistakes and circumstances come together in such a way that tragedy happens. Other times, everything goes wrong, but somehow, tragedy is avoided.

complete home defense

I know that not all police officers receive the training or have experience. Not every cop has 15 years on patrol, every cop started day one with no real world experience. Which cop is responding to your door? You can’t control every circumstance, but what you can do is use best practices in your response that gives you the best opportunity not to get shot mistakenly.

That brings me to suggest this resource called Complete Home Defense—Tactics for Defending Your Castle. What I touch on in this article and so much more is covered in the course. You can get it on DVD or a digital download and I highly recommend it for anyone who has a firearm for home defense or just wants to fortify their home.

You might have a home fire plan. What about a home security plan? When we have plans and systems in place, we reduce the likelihood of making mistakes. If you have a firearm to protect your family inside the home, why not learn the best strategies to use that firearm in defense of your home?

Leave your comments below.

complete home defense class


  1. Clark Kent on April 14, 2023 at 12:53 am

    You don’t need to have a doorbell camera. Often times the police or suspects cover up same. All you need to do is keep the door closed and loudly ask ‘who’s there’? If they answer ‘police’ tell them you are calling 911 to verify same. If it is a voice you don’t recognize tell them to leave and if they don’t then you should call 911.

    • Metairieman55 on April 17, 2023 at 5:06 pm

      Reasonable plan!

  2. Bruce Williams on April 16, 2023 at 9:36 am

    “Officers aren’t expected to be perfect, but is responding to the wrong address a reasonable mistake?”

    When it comes to this specific situation I certainly do expect perfection…from at least one of the three responding FPD officers. Reasonableness should not be injected into the conversation. The three FPD officers knew that they were not certain that they had the correct address. One of the officers chuckled at the notion and realization.

    The three FPD officers saw a gun and responded. The remedy is that law enforcement officers not respond to the wrong location.

    The three FPD officers involved in this situation will not likely be held, to any significant degree, responsible for their actions once the investigation is complete. The residents of Farmington will be held responsible. The family of the victim will not receive any reasonable compensation or closure.

    Farmington PD has a blog page where the raw and “contextual” body cam video is posted. I recommend that you review the footage and then revisit your posting above.

  3. Charles Chaplin on April 16, 2023 at 8:05 pm

    The fact this particular call happened at night has zero to do with whether the officers made a mistake. The addresses were clearly visible on the front of the house leading to the front door and on the mailbox. Having missed both (or never looked) is astounding. Bringing up the time of day seems like an attempt at providing cover for their mistake.

    I can understand why officers would need to park away from the intended target as the author mentioned but if they quietly walked towards the door with zero interference upon reaching the front door then mentioning their parking distance is again irrelevant and seems like another attempt at providing cover for these officers mistakes.

    It seems these officers paid little attention to their surroundings and made no effort to independently verify their location. They relied on someone who wasn’t even near their location to verify their location. If they couldn’t find any markings to establish an address then I could completely understand the outcome. As Bruce mentioned above I highly doubt the Farmington PD will be held accountable for the mistakes they made. Civilians are the lowest rung on the food chain of humanity after all. They not only pay for their own mistakes but also those of their government.

  4. JDM on April 16, 2023 at 9:44 pm

    To me, this borders upon dereliction of duty on the Officers part. The mere fact that the homeowner had a weapon in his hand doesn’t automatically give officers cause to shoot him. The reporting in this writing doesn’t say whether the homeowner was pointing his weapon at officers or not either and whether he was or not changes the contact dynamic drastically.

    It’s not asking too much to expect officers to be sure that they respond to the correct address when going to someone’s home. Not doing so is negligence and the point of the original foul the rest of this scenario was based upon. This was a deadly mistake that could have been avoided easily had that critical piece of information been confirmed. Granted, the homeowner could have reacted differently to the late night knock but he has an assumption of being and a constitutional right to safety in his home. However, as stated above, what difference does it make if you’re dead and that’s what ultimately matters.

    This sickens me. The officers didn’t act with malice but their actions had consequences that cannot be undone. The officer who shot the homeowner should be prosecuted and the other two should be fired, sued and be never allowed to “protect and serve” again.
    Just my opinion. Everybody has one.

  5. Mark Hostetler on April 16, 2023 at 9:58 pm

    Prayers for Family and Friends 🙏🙏🙏🍀🤠. Prayers for Officer 🙏🙏🙏🍀🤠

  6. Dr. Bud Walker on April 17, 2023 at 10:24 am

    My first impression is a clerical error happened with the dispatcher. Knowing that anyone can type an error into a message, the numbers 5 and 8 are within 1/4″ of each other! I have mistyped numbers frequently while doing bookkeeping and find that a 3 number error is usually the fault of “fat finger syndrome”. An honest mistake? Maybe the cops should have called into verify rather that taking the number for granted on the screen. Verbally, it would have been a quick fix. Just an opinion. Still a tragic loss for all!

  7. Charles G. Hallbert on April 17, 2023 at 11:43 am

    When I served as a reserve deputy in the 1980s, the burden of risk was on the man/women wearing the badge in that to lawfully use deadly force against a subject there were three essential prerequisites: the subject had to possess a weapon, the subject had to be able to deploy the weapon, and the subject had to move the weapon in a direction that presented a threat. The other scenario came into play when a subject known to have committed an act of violence causing death or severe bodily harm attempted to flee and thus presented a threat to the public. Now (following the current opinion from the US Supreme Court) the criteria in operation approves the use of deadly force when an officer is assumed to have reasonable fear for his/her life. Under these conditions, a subject quickly reaching for a cellular telephone in the dark can legally suffer death or serious injury during contact with police authorities.

  8. Jim Peters on April 17, 2023 at 12:07 pm

    I can’t believe you have a magazine that reports to help concealed carry patrons do the right thing, and training, training, training, but takes the side of the LEOs even when they are DEAD wrong. The LEOs are the ones that killed an innocent man period. He was home. He was doing no wrong. He was shot in his own home, with a legal handgun. The homeowner need not worry, he didn’t cause a crime. Even if LEOs were responding to a Domestic, is their first response to shoot? I can only hope with the “training LEOs get” is of higher caliber then a magazine. May those LEOs all sit in jail for life, but we all know they will get away with it, badge to kill even your subscribers.

    • Jeff Healey on April 17, 2023 at 6:25 pm

      Personally…. With everything happening in this country… I have no sympathy for these cops and they absolutely should be removed from the force and face at the very least, a substantial law suit. With a dollar number that will ensure his grandchildren, would never have to work again. This is what my response would be…. My spouse and I answer a door at night and we’re both armed. (in new Mexico, with illegals invading homes by the thousands) and she were shot and killed in front of me…myself and those cops will have a fight. I have more firepower available to me in my home than they do in there patrol cars. Before I die… They will go with me..!! CITIZENS can get it wrong in a self defense shooting and be sent to prison … So can cops.

  9. Metairieman55 on April 17, 2023 at 5:17 pm

    Mistakes were made by both parties! And unfortunately fatal in this instance. From what I understand, too many cops suffer injury from these domestic disputes situations. So what were the officers supposed to think when they see a gun. Milliseconds could have been their undoing, too. Sad situation nonetheless.

    On a different note, I am on the older side and finding addresses in either day or night is very difficult. There should be a viewable in any condition number size posted on the eave of every house.

  10. Braxton s Larson on April 21, 2023 at 5:48 pm

    You don’t just pull a gun on a cop and point it at them that’s just basic facts if you were in that situation you would have most likely done the same for the cops it’s kill or be killed as the family member of multiple cops 2 of which were shot and killed because they didn’t react fast enough to safe themselves put yourself in the cops shoes this is almost entirely the families fault when the cops come to your door you should never go to the door armed with a hand gun and point it at them period

  11. Michael O on May 16, 2023 at 4:37 pm

    I hear a bunch of people with zero empathy for either side. You must put yourself in the other shoes. I have no doubt that this couple was confused and and shaken out of a sleep or something like that. We all have been woken up to find ourselves extremely confused because of exhaustion.
    On the police officers side, domestic violence calls are one of the most dangerous calls to respond to. they are putting themselves in harms way everyday for YOU!!! yes for you!!! Yes, there were mistakes that happened on both sides. they were mistakes and not intentional. The wife and family is devastated. The police officer that shot him is devastated. instead of playing a blame game lets do some supporting because nothing can truly heal this on either side.

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