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N.M. Cops' Minivan Shooting Comes Under Fire

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on November 19, 2013 2:51 PM

Two New Mexico State Police officers are being investigated over a minivan shooting that happened last month. One of the officers opened fire on the minivan carrying a mother and her five children.

From engaging in a high speed chase to shooting at a van full of kids, both the mother and the officer are likely to face adult time-outs.

Random Game of Cat and Mouse

What was meant to be a routine traffic stop quickly spiraled out of control when a high-speed chase ensued outside of Santa Fe.

In the dash cam video, 39-year-old mother of five, Orianna Ferrell, can be seen getting pulled over for speeding. She and the officer are seen arguing over the speeding ticket (she was allegedly going 71 mph in a 55-mph zone) -- but then she drives off, reports CBS News.

You can see video of the incident here:

After a series of stop-and-go interactions (with her 14-year-old son scuffling with an officer at one point), Ferrell locks the doors. After the officer tries to smash her window with a baton, she drives off again. But as she drives off, another officer is seen firing at least three shots at the van with the five children inside.

After a 10-minute, high-speed chase, Ferrell stops and is arrested along with her son.

What Went Wrong?

There seems to be plenty of blame to go around here. In particular, the video raises questions regarding:

  • The officers' actions. Considering this was initially about a speeding ticket, the officers likely used excessive force when one officer smashed the window with a baton and the other officer fired bullets directly at the van. The flying glass and bullets threatened the children's safety. The officers will have a tough time justifying the use of deadly force (and a high speed chase) in a traffic stop that spun out of control.
  • The mother's actions. Ferrell claims she kept driving away because she was afraid of the officers. Unfortunately, her response violated a host of laws. Ferrell was charged with child endangerment, fleeing an officer, resisting arrest, reckless driving, and possession of drug paraphernalia (marijuana pipes).
  • The son's actions. Ferrell's teenage son was charged with battery of a police officer. This is because you cannot get out of a car during a traffic stop and make offensive contact with an officer.

The judge, who described the video as "disturbing and puzzling," certainly has his head-scratching work cut out for him.

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