DA: No charges for cop who shot at van

TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) - It's the dramatic police dash cam video of a traffic stop near Taos that spun wildly out of control that's made national news.

Now News 13 has learned more about the officers involved and the Memphis mom who led police on a high-speed chase.

It all started in late October when New Mexico State Police officer Tony DeTavis pulled over Oriana Farrell for doing 71 mph in a 55 mph zone south of Taos. Information from the New Mexico Department of Public Safety website shows DeTavis is very new to the force, having earned his badge in June.

Farrell is a Memphis mom who was taking her five kids through New Mexico on an educational trip. On her website, Farrell identifies herself as a parenting coach, recording artist, teacher and writer. Court records from Tennessee show she was arrested for DUI and Reckless Driving in 2008.

Dash cam video shows DeTavis and Farrell arguing over Farrell signing the citation. After several minutes arguing, DeTavis asked Farrell to shut the vehicle off while he called dispatch. Instead, Farrell took off and DeTavis had to pull her over again about a half mile down the road.

Then things appear to get dicey. DeTavis orders Farrell out of the car but when she doesn't comply, DeTavis tries to pull her out while the kids inside the minivan start screaming. Eventually, Farrell agrees to get out and talk to DeTavis but bolts again after he attempts to arrest her. The mother and the officer physically struggle outside of the van.

That's when Farrell's 14-year-old son gets out and rushes the officer. After a quick scuffle, DeTavis draws his Taser and chases the teenager back into the van. Farrell gets back behind the wheel.

State Police officers Anthony Luna and Elias Montoya arrive soon after. Luna rushes to DeTavis' side and asks if the people in the minivan have a gun. According to Luna's supplemental State Police report, DeTavis tells Luna, "I don't know." The dash cam audio is unclear.

Seconds after the quick conversation, DeTavis takes out his baton and starts bashing in the minivan's rear window.

Farrell pulls away again. That's when Montoya opens fire with his department-issued gun, shooting three times at the fleeing minivan full of kids.

In Montoya's State Police report, he claims he heard DeTavis and Luna talking about a gun and was shooting at the left rear tire of the van to keep it from fleeing.

"My decision in shooting at the tire and not at the driver was because of all the people in the vehicle, and not having knowledge of who may have had the previously mentioned weapon," wrote Montoya.

There was no weapon in the minivan.

Farrell then led police on a four to five minute chase into Taos, exceeding speeds of 100 mph and weaving into wrong-way traffic before pulling over and giving up in front of a hotel.

Farrell was arrested for child abuse, fleeing and drug paraphernalia. That drug paraphernalia charge stems from two marijuana pipes police claim she had in the minivan. Her son was charged with battery on an officer and resisting arrest.

In a statement, State Police Chief Pete Kassetas says the incident is being investigated.

"This is a concerning incident and is undergoing a full and thorough review," Kassetas wrote. "I have, of course, reviewed the video and do have concerns relating to the conduct of the officer who discharged his firearm."

Kassetas does not say in his statement whether DeTavis was under investigation as well. It's unclear whether any of the three officers are on desk duty.

Meanwhile, Taos County District Attorney Donald Gallegos tells News 13 in a phone interview it appears what the officers did was not a crime.

"[Additional] information could come in, but at this preliminary stage, what I've viewed and what I've reviewed I don't see any criminal charges against any of the officers," Gallegos said. "I don't intend to seek charges at this point."

Gallegos says he fully intends to pursue the case against Farrell and her son.

Calls to Farrell's attorney Alan Maestas were not returned.


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