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New Mexico investigates officers who shot at van carrying five kids

New dash cam video shows the traffic stop in New Mexico that escalated to a state police officer firing shots at a moving minivan with five children inside.
Mugshot of Oriana Lee Farell.
Mugshot of Oriana Lee Farell.

Two New Mexico state police officers are currently under investigation for their actions during a recent speeding incident involving a mother and her van filled with her five children. The mother who was driving the vehicle, Oriana Lee Farell, and her 14-year-old son are facing charges after a routine traffic stop near the New Mexico town of Taos turned into a high-speed chase and an eventual arrest. 

The Taos News obtained and posted all 18 minutes from the dashboard camera off the police cruiser which initially pulled the family over for driving 71 miles an hour in a 55 miles-per-hour zone. The video shows the situation quickly escalating between Officer Tony DeTavis, Farell and her teenage son.

When the police officer presents her with her options, Farell pleads for lenience, then drives away when asked to take her keys out of the ignition. 

After being pulled over a second time, Farell is asked by Officer DeTavis to exit the vehicle; she then tries to get back in. Her 14-year-old son gets out of the van and struggles with the police officer, who reaches for his gun to get the teen back in the van. 

Once the teen shuts the van door and refuses to get out, a backup car arrives and DeTavis uses a nightstick to smash the window of the right-side of the car. Then Farell drives off and another officer, Elias Montoya, shoots three times at the vehicle. According to police records, he wrote that he fired "at the left rear tire in an attempt to immobilize the vehicle."

Shortly after her arrest, Farrell submitted a handwritten op-ed to The Taos News. The Taos News has a policy of not publishing op-eds on open legal cases, but made an exception for Farrell because her case has received so much national attention. The newspaper published her piece unedited.

In the piece Farrell tries to rewrite the image of her created by the Taos media.

"I have learned that the value of their lives only matters so much as criminal charges against me are concerned," she wrote. "A uniformed officer can shoot three bullets at my van and be considered to be 'doing his job,' but my doing what I can to get my own children away from such a terrifying individual has been termed 'child abuse' and 'endangerment,' according to New Mexico law.

"The media has been given authority to defame my character and to erroneously report partial facts pertaining to my case because an officer of the law was said to be 'doing his job.' Injustice at its best," the op-ed states.