There is a disturbing case out of New Mexico where police fired into a van full of children after the mother tried to drive away from officers. As shown on the video below, an officer stopped Oriana Ferrell on a routine traffic stop only to see her drive away. What followed was a chase, smashing windows of the van, and the shocking decision of an officer to fire into a vehicle with kids in the backseat.
First and foremost, it should be noted that Ferrell had violated a host of laws. She fled the scene, engaged in a high-speed chase, resisted arrest, and police say that they found two marijuana pipes in the car. However, it is the discharge of the weapon that shocked many of us.
Ferrell was originally pulled over for going 71 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone. She argues with the officer who goes back to his car only to see Ferrell drive away. At this point, he is aware that there are five children in the car aged 6 to 18.
He then pulls her over again and yells at her to get out of the van. When she refuses, he tries to force her out. When her teenage son gets out to confront him, the officer pulls his taser and the teen goes back into the car.
He tells her that she will be charged and to get out as she argues with him. She inexplicably insists that she did nothing wrong and “didn’t run away.” She gets out of the car and the officer tells her to face the van to be cuffed. After she locks herself back into the van, the officer takes his baton and starts to break windows even though he knows that children are seated inside. The flying glass constitutes an obvious threat to the children and this is the first serious breach that I can see. I do not understand why they do not immobilize the van or why he decides to break the window next to the children rather than the driver.
As he is smashing the windows, she drives away. That is when another officer fires three shots directly into a van filled with children. It is a shocking use of force with no concern for the children inside the van. At this point, Ferrell is only accused of a minor traffic stop, leaving the scene, and resisting arrest. There has been no weapon or attack on the officer. Yet, this officer put three slugs through the back of a van filled with children.
Ferrell then leads the police on a 10-minute chase before turning herself in. The New Mexico State Police have not removed any of the officers from active duty.
Ferrell was charged with five counts of abuse of a child, aggravated fleeing an officer, resisting an officer, reckless driving and possession of drug paraphernalia. The abuse of a child is interesting given the fact that it was the officers that fired into a van full of children. Moreover, it is not clear what the basis is for the charge against her teenage son for battery of an officer.
As the video below shows, there was ample reason for an arrest, but the excessive force used by the police is very disturbing and warrants a full investigation. The officer firing the weapon could have killed three children with this unjustified use of force. The police had multiple cars and could easily stop a minivan without resulting to the use of potentially lethal force.
What do you think?
Kudos: Michael Blott