TAOS, N.M. - A newspaper in New Mexico has released the full 18-minute dash cam video showing a traffic stop that involved state police firing at a van full of children.
The Taos News reported the internal investigation by New Mexico State Police into a high-speed pursuit and officer-involved shooting near Taos may be completed as soon as next week, according to Chief Pete Kassetas.
"Improperly using a firearm isn't tolerated by the State Police," Kassetas stated in an email to The Taos News on Friday. "The investigation will determine if the use of force was appropriate given the circumstances."
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.
The Taos News obtained the full dash cam video from the police cruiser that pulled over the family of six for speeding near the northern New Mexico tourist town on Oct 28.
The footage shows driver Oriana Farrell, 39, disobeying 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 escalated as she pleaded 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, identified as Tony DeTavis in police records, tries to restrain her.
The unedited video shows at least two of her five children get out of the vehicle to confront DeTavis 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 DeTavis appears to pull out his stun gun.
At that point, backup arrived as DeTavis bashed out the minivan's front passenger window with his nightstick and another officer, identified in records as Elias Montoya, shot at the vehicle as it drove off. Montoya wrote that he fired his weapon "at the left rear tire in an attempt to immobilize the vehicle."
Mobile link for video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rqe6Oesvhl0
The mother and teen were arrested in front of 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. Farrell was released on bond.
It's unclear whether the 14-year-old remains in custody. He faces charges of battery of an officer. His name has not been released.
DeTavis wrote in the police report that Montoya "later bought the entire family McDonald's during the booking process."
Farrell wrote a long letter to the Taos News, giving her side of the story. It was published as an op-ed piece. Read her letter here: http://ch7ne.ws/1dqeGSA
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.
Gallegos said based on what he's seen from the video, the district attorney's office will not pursue criminal charges against 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.