Attorney General James’ Office of Special Investigation Releases Report on Death of Carson Dobson

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation (OSI) today released its report on the death of Carson Dobson, who died on December 24, 2021 in Dolgeville, Herkimer County. Following a thorough investigation, which included review of body-worn camera footage, interviews with witnesses, police radio transmissions, and evidence from the scene, OSI concluded that a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that the trooper who shot Mr. Dobson was justified.

On the afternoon of December 24, 2021, members of the Dolgeville Police Department and New York State Police (NYSP) responded to a report of a domestic stabbing at Mr. Dobson’s mother’s residence. Mr. Dobson lived in a camping trailer a few hundred yards from the residence and had reportedly stabbed his mother before fleeing to the trailer. After officers arrived, they attempted to engage Mr. Dobson, but he refused to come outside.

Mr. Dobson asked the officers to bring him his generator, which was on the ground near the door of the trailer, suggesting he wanted to use it to hurt himself. In an effort to get Mr. Dobson to leave the trailer, the officers placed the generator closer to the door of the trailer and told Mr. Dobson it was there for him. When Mr. Dobson opened his trailer door, a NYSP trooper attempted to subdue him with a taser but was unsuccessful. Mr. Dobson then charged out of his trailer wielding a sword and a knife and advanced towards the trooper who had tased him, and the trooper fired his gun in response. Mr. Dobson was pronounced dead at the scene, and officers recovered a sword and a knife at the scene.

Under New York’s justification law, a person may use deadly physical force to defend against the imminent use of deadly physical force by another person. When the defense of justification is raised at trial, the prosecution must disprove justification beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, Mr. Dobson had reportedly stabbed his mother and he then exited his trailer brandishing a sword and a knife and charged at a trooper. Under these circumstances, based on the law and the evidence, a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer who fired was justified, and OSI determined that criminal charges could not be pursued against the trooper.