SANTA FE – Santa Fe city government has paid $212,500 to settle a lawsuit over a police officer’s shooting of a neighborhood watchman when both responded to a late-night burglar alarm at more than five years ago.
The payment settles claims against the city, Officer Charles Laramie and former Police Chief Ray Rael over Laramie’s shooting of Robert “Bobby” Dominguez on Johnson Lane in March 2013.
Dominguez died at age 78 the following January from what family members said were complications from his three gunshot wounds.
He was a former SFPD officer and Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputy who looked after neighbors’ houses in his east side neighborhood when they were away.
Court documents indicate a settlement in the wrongful death suit was reached last fall. But there was a legal tussle over who would receive the money.
Those issues have been resolved and the city’s settlement agreement is with Dominguez’s children, Lydia Leyba and Lawrence Trujillo, who brought the suit, and with Marsha Roybal, his niece and personal representative for Dominguez’s probate estate. The city defendants were dismissed from the case last month.
Cammie Nichols, attorney for Dominguez’s children, said the settlement is fair. The lawsuit continues against Livewatch Security, whose alarm system went off the night of the shooting, on grounds that the alarm company failed to alert law enforcement that Dominguez would be on the scene. “That’s the crux of this tragedy,” Nichols said.
On the night of the burglar alarm, Laramie said, he identified himself as a police officer when he got to the house and told Dominguez to keep his hands down. But he said Dominguez instead drew his gun and pointed it at Laramie, prompting Laramie to fire five shots. Laramie said he fired two more shots because Dominguez raised his gun after he hit the ground.
Dominguez’s family claimed that Dominguez put his gun down when he tried to shut off the alarm and that Laramie saw an empty holster when he started shooting. Dominguez’s gun was on a chair a few feet from him after the shooting, Laramie has said. Dominguez told investigators he put his gun and holster on the ground before being shot.
Then-District Attorney Angela “Spence” Pacheco cleared Laramie of wrongdoing soon after the shooting, saying the late-night situation was a “recipe for disaster.”
The Veterans Administration has a lien on the settlement payment for medical expenses incurred by Dominguez. The money will go into a trust account and there will be no disbursements until the VA lien “has been satisfied or resolved.” Nichols said the home’s out-of-state owners also have settled.