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Outrage After NM Officers Attack Family, Shoot at Van Containing 5 Kids

krqe_ferrell_131118a-615x345The nation is reacting with outrage to a video of a routine traffic stop in New Mexico that shows police using excessive force to stop a Black woman who had been pulled over for speeding in a van filled with her five children. The officers fired multiple shots at the van and bashed the passenger side window to get to the woman’s 14-year-old son.

 While the actions of the woman, Oriana Ferrell, 39, can be questioned as she pulled away from a police officer who told her to wait until he checked her license, it is the actions of the officers in the video from their dashboard camera that appear to be especially outrageous and needlessly excessive.

At a time when African-Americans are being gunned down for seeking help from homeowners (Renisha McBride in Michigan) and police officers (Jonathan Ferrell in North Carolina), or just walking down the street with a bag of Skittles (Trayvon Martin in Florida), we must question whether we are still living in a society that devalues Black life and Black bodies.

How else can you explain police officers shooting at a vehicle containing five children? Do you imagine they would have the same response if the car was full of white children?

The video, which has gone viral after it was aired on the “Today” show and other national news programs, captures the entire incident that occurred on Oct. 28 near the city of Taos, New Mexico. Ferrell was on her way to the Rio Grande on an educational trip with her children from their home in Tennessee.

The police officer pulled Ferrell over for going 71 in a 55 mph zone. After her approached the car and asked her to wait, she inexplicably drove away. He gave chase and pulled her over a second time. Visibly angry, the officer ran to the car, yelling: “Get out of the vehicle! Get out of the vehicle right now!”

The officer tries to pull Ferrell out of the vehicle and her 14-year-old son gets out and valiantly runs over to defend his mom—but the teen returns to the minivan after the officer aims a weapon at him. It is a Taser, but it’s possible the boy thought it was a gun.

“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.”

The mother and the son struggle with the officer before getting back in the minivan. The officer then takes his baton and violently smashes 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 weaves in an out of traffic and eventually comes to a stop in front of a motel. She was arrested and charged with child abuse, fleeing an officer and possession of drug paraphernalia—the police found what they claimed were two marijuana pipes in the car. The 14-year-old boy was charged with battery.

The other children, ages 6 to 18, were taken into the custody of  the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department and were later placed in the care of a family member known to Ferrell, according to court documents obtained by The Taos News.

Eighth Judicial District Judge Jeff McElroy reviewed the dashcam footage at a hearing and said that the “court is concerned about the nature of these charges.”

Ferrell’s 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 said.

In court documents, officers claimed the shots were fired “in an attempt to keep the vehicle from leaving.”

But New Mexico State Police chief, Pete Kassetas, called the incident “an intense, 43-minute-long, dangerous situation that placed the public at risk.”

“I have, of course, reviewed the video and do have concerns relating to the conduct of the officer who discharged his firearm,” the chief said in a statement.

But Greg Meyer, a retired police captain and expert on the use of force, told NBC News that there were many questions he had about the conduct of the officers.

“I would be asking a lot of questions about the window smash — what’s he trying to accomplish there? And the gunfire — what’s he trying to accomplish there?” Meyer said. “Until we know why, it’s difficult to judge thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the reasonableness of what happened here.”

What people are saying

10 thoughts on “Outrage After NM Officers Attack Family, Shoot at Van Containing 5 Kids

  1. Rick Ellis says:

    what the fuck is those cop malfunction shooting at a car full of kids and i bet the cops will get off with a slap on the wrist while the mother and son do some time i have enough of this bullshit head should roll nothing worse than rouge cops who think they should first and ask questions later if that was my mother i would have defended her 2

  2. Anonymous says:

    ok so yeah she's wrong for taking off the first time, but that that point they have her license plate number. Send her the ticket and a requirement that she appear in court, or just put out a watch on that plate, and deal with her later. don't pull her over again point a "gun" at her son, try to pull her into the road, shoot at a car that has a 6 year old in it, as well as other children, and then say "well endangered your children" when she was trying to get them away from a man who had pointed a gun at them and then shot at them and smashed glass into the faces of some of them.

  3. Cody Graber says:

    How does the cops know those are her children? Maybe she had taken them and was planning on doing a suicide trip. Oh yeah…they didn't. You have more facts now then they did then. They didn't know there wasn't a gun in the car. It didn't get scary until they resisted arrest, and I agree they shouldn't have fired at the tires., but she is the one who caused that whole situation. And black? That had nothing to do with them being black, goodness we can't scream it's because we are black everytime something happens. Things happen to white people everyday, the difference? They can't say its because we are white and it doesn't get into the media. If we use that everytime we do something wrong, when it really is true, it won't be heard. She should have been arrested.

  4. So you are saying that things like THIS happen to white women with kids in the car all the time, NOT! And if you watch the video you will see when she drove away the first time that it looked to me like the frustrated cop just gave up (in her eyes too I bet), and walked away to his patrol car. I might have done the same thing, did you also notice she drove away VERY slowly, didn't step on it. The woman was confused by the ticket system, I also would be confused. Apparently in NM you HAVE to accept one of two options when given a ticket, right there on the spot, that is a BS law. Regardless, this woman should NOT have been subjected to this harrassment, the cop knew that she was NO threat, accept for the fact that she was black, which in his mind IS a threat I suspect.

  5. Albert Avila says:

    That cop was being too nice… Don't put blame on the cops this lady had expired license and drugs! She put her kids in danger not the cops! They lady should be charged with everything they can throw at her !!!! And the media needs to stop twisting the shit into a racist thing!

  6. Candace Proper Straitiff says:

    Oviously the women didn't give a damn about the kids or she would have done what she was ask. She 'was' pulled over for breaking the law. I don't care if she's purple or striped, black, white or what ever. Sitting in the car, she was ask for her drivers lic.. She refused….duh….cops don't know who or what she's done. Did she kidnap those kids? or or or………….She had to be pulled from the car due to her superiority problem. It all started with her. I don't agree what the cops , concerning shooting at the tires of the car….but again…..did she kidnap those kids? Did she just rob a bank? Did she just kill whom ever. If she kept speeding and refused to stop…again…duh. Took off after being stopped 1 or 2 times, cops don't know why? She chose her path and the cops followed suit due to her what ever problem. Where's the responcibility here? All she had to do was show her drivers lic. since she was legally pulled over. She's teaching her kids by example???? All the kids saw was someone hurting their Mom. That's all the kids mind sees. Again, her fault.
    She didn't defend her kids, she chose to involve them…………..mmmanannnnannn

    Again, I'm not defending the cops, but she did wrong!!!

  7. The cop shooting needs a permanent leave. You can't do that.

  8. Candace Proper Straitiff says:

    Obviously the women didn't give a damn about the kids or she would have done what she was ask. She 'was' pulled over for breaking the law, speeding. I don't care if she's purple or striped, black, white or what ever. Sitting in the car, she was ask for her drivers lic.. She refused….duh….cops don't know who or what she's done. Did she kidnap those kids? or or or………….She had to be pulled from the car due to her superiority problem. It all started with her. I don't agree what the cops concerning shooting at the tires of the car….but again…..did she kidnap those kids? Did she just rob a bank? Did she just kill whom ever. If she kept speeding and refused to stop…again…duh. Took off after being stopped 1 or 2 times, cops don't know why or who she is? She choose her path and the cops followed suit due to her whatever problem. Where's the responsibility here? All she had to do was show her drivers lic. since she was legally pulled over. She's teaching her kids by example???? All the kids saw was someone hurting their Mom. That's all the kids mind sees. Again, her fault.She didn't defend her kids, she chose to involve them…………..mmmanannnnannn
    If the cops wouldn't have pulled her over and the kids where in some sort of trouble or danger, the cops would be blamed for not having the 'brights' to pull the car over. After all they didn't know who or what she was. So it would be their fault 'again'.
    Cops are people making judgement calls all the time. So good, so not so good.

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