Several New Mexico State Police officers are under investigation after at least one of them fired shots at a minivan full of children last month.
According to KRQE, an officer pulled over Oriana Ferrell in Taos for going 71 mph in a 55 mph zone on Oct. 28. Ferrell had brought her five children from Tennessee on an educational trip.
Dashcam footage obtained by KRQE late last week shows Ferrell and the officer arguing over the ticket before she drives off. The officer chases the mother down and pulls her over again.
The second traffic stop eventually escalates into a struggle, with the officer trying to pull the African-American mother out of the vehicle and her 14-year-old son getting out to defend his mom. But the boy returns to the minivan after the officer aims a Taser at him.
“Sir, I pulled back over, I didn’t run away,” Ferrell pleads at one point. “You see my children. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m just trying to take them to the Rio Grande.”
Eventually both the mother and the son struggle with the officer before getting back in the minivan. The officer then uses his baton to smash the passenger side window where the 14-year-old boy is sitting.
As the family attempts to flee, a second officer fires at least three shots at the vehicle.
Ferrell was later arrested and charged with child abuse, fleeing an officer and possession of drug paraphernalia. The 14-year-old boy was charged with battery. The other children were taken into the custody the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department. They were later placed in the care of a family known to Ferrell, according to court documents obtained by The Taos News.
At a hearing on Tuesday, Eighth Judicial District Judge Jeff McElroy reviewed the dashcam footage and said that the “court is concerned about the nature of these charges.”
Defense attorney Alan Maestas explained to the judge that Ferrell was fleeing from the officer because she feared for the safety of her children.
“She was flat-out scared that something was going to happen to her children,” he said. “We ought to talk about the stupidity and recklessness of shooting at a car that has five children in it.”
“If someone ought to be charged with child abuse, it ought to be the New Mexico State Police,” Maestas pointed out.
In charging documents, however, officers argued that the shots were fired “in an attempt to keep the vehicle from leaving.”
Watch this video from KRQE, broadcast Nov. 15, 2013.