In traffic stop chaos, NM officer fires at van
Albuquerque, N.M. • Two New Mexico state police officers are under investigation and a mother and her 14-year-old son are facing charges after a routine traffic stop turned to chaos when the teen physically confronted one officer and another officer fired shots at a minivan carrying children.
Details of the recent stop emerged when KRQE-TV obtained video from the dashboard camera of the police cruiser that pulled the family of six over for speeding near the northern New Mexico tourist town of Taos.
The footage taken Oct. 28 shows driver Oriana Farrell, 39, disobey the officer's orders, including driving off after being told to take her keys out of the vehicle.
The Memphis, Tenn., woman was pulled over again and the situation escalates as she pleads for lenience while refusing the officer's orders to get out of the van.
She eventually exits the vehicle, but tries to get back in as the officer tries to restrain her.
The TV station's edited video shows at least two of her five children get out of the vehicle to confront the officer in her defense.
Farrell ushered the smaller child back into the van as the 14-year-old struggled with the officer. The teen got back in the vehicle and shut the door after the officer appears to pull out his stun gun.
At that point, backup arrived as the initial officer bashed out the minivan's front passenger window with his nightstick and another officer shot at the vehicle as it drove off.
The mother and teenage son were arrested at a hotel after a brief chase. She has since been released and faces charges of child abuse, fleeing and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia for a pair of marijuana pipes found in the van. Ferrell was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.
It's unclear whether the 14-year-old is in custody. He faces charges of battery of an officer. His name has not been released.
Farrell's attorney Alan Maestas did not immediately return a phone call to The Associated Press. Maestas, however, suggested to a judge last week that Farrell was acting out of fear for the safety of her children when she drove away from officers.
Eighth Judicial District Attorney Donald Gallegos the situation could have been avoided if Farrell had followed the officer's instructions. "She wouldn't do the simple act of just signing a ticket," Gallegos said.
In a statement, New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said his department will conduct a "full and thorough review" of the shooting and traffic stop.
Kassetas said he has seen the video and has "concerns relating to the conduct of the officer who discharged his firearm."
He said the department "will take swift action" if the investigation determines the officer acted improperly.
The officers have not been identified.
Gallegos said based on what he's seen from the video, the district attorney's office will not pursue criminal charges against any of the officers. But he said that could change if state police present more evidence.
On the video, the initial officer could be heard telling Farrell she had been driving 71 mph in a 55 mph zone.