New Mexico officer fired in van shooting to appeal

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 9, 2013 at 5:26 pm •  Published: December 9, 2013

TAOS, N.M. (AP) — Lawyers for a New Mexico State Police officer who fired shots at a minivan full of children during a chaotic October traffic stop in Taos said he plans to appeal his firing.

Attorneys for Elias Montoya said Sunday they were reviewing the allegations against the veteran officer and intend to claim he was wrongfully terminated.

"One of the most dangerous situations is a traffic stop on a rural road with limited radio access," attorney Antonia Roybal-Mack said in the statement. "It is difficult to second-guess the actions of Officer Montoya without completely reviewing all of the evidence."

No one was hurt in the shooting that occurred while five children were in the minivan.

Under department policy, Montoya has 30 days to appeal his firing to the Public Safety Advisory Commission, which is made up of civilians appointed by the governor.

Gov. Susana Martinez said Monday she supported the decision by New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas to fire Montoya.

"You don't use deadly force against someone who is not threatening you with deadly force," said Martinez, a former district attorney whose husband is a retired law enforcement officer.

The governor said she reviewed video from a police cruiser's dashboard camera taken during the Oct. 28 traffic stop that showed Montoya shooting at the minivan as Oriana Farrell of Memphis, Tenn., drove away from a traffic stop after an officer knocked out her van's window with a baton.

The 39-year-old motorist had been stopped by another State Police officer for speeding. Authorities said she fled twice after that officer tried to give her a ticket and then arrest her.

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