A mother who sped away from New Mexico State Police with an officer shooting at her minivan said she was trying to protect her children from a “terrifying individual.”
In a jailhouse op-ed to the Taos News published Thursday, Oriana Farrell told her side of the October 28 incident that began as a traffic stop.
“As a single, African-American mother of five in this country, things are tough enough I should not have to endure harassment at the hands of someone who has been hired to protect the citizens of this land over an alleged ‘speeding offense.’ No one should,” Farrell wrote.
Dash cam video of the October 28 incident released to HLN affiliate KRQE shows an officer pulling over Farrell, 39, of Memphis, Tennessee, for going 71 in a 55 mph speed zone. In the video, the officer tells Farrell to turn her vehicle off and stay put before he walks back to his patrol car.
Farrell then drives away from the traffic stop and the officer pulls her over again. The officer demands Farrell get out of the vehicle and tries to pull her out.
After Farrell gets out of the vehicle, the officer tries to arrest her. Farrell’s 14-year-old son then gets out of the car and then the officer pulls out his Taser and chases him back to the vehicle, where the officer pulls out his baton and starts swinging at the passenger side window.
Farrell speeds away again, while another officer fires three shots at the minivan, carrying her children, who range in age from 6 to 18. Authorities pursued Farrell for nearly five minutes before she stopped in front of a hotel, where she and her son were arrested.
Farrell wrote in the op-ed, “A uniformed officer can shoot three bullets at my van and be considered to be ‘doing his job,’ but my doing what I can to get my own children away from such a terrifying individual has been termed “child abuse’ and ‘endangerment,’ according to New Mexico law."
She went on to write, “An officer can use a baton to smash a glass window directly into the faces of my four young sons who were riding in the backseat, but somehow my attempts to protect them from further harm are dismissed because the perpetrator wore an official ‘state uniform,’ and has been hired to ‘protect and serve.’”
Farrell has been charged with intentional abuse of a child and aggravated fleeing of a law enforcement officer. She also faces a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. Her 14-year-old son has been charged with battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.
Farrell goes on to say that she hopes “someone reads this editorial and comes to know more about the real me, and not the one misportrayed and demonized by the Taos media. I hope that someone takes the time to think about how this ordeal is affecting myself, and most importantly my children. They do not deserve this and neither do I.”
Farrell has since been released from prison on bail. Taos County District Attorney Donald Gallegos told KRQE that “[additional] information could come in, but at this preliminary stage, what I’ve viewed and what I’ve reviewed I don’t see any criminal charges against any of the officers.”
When reached by HLN, New Mexico State Police said it would not make any comments about Farrell's allegations. Farrell's case is set for trial on April 21.
The Taos News wrote on its website that it normally does not publish op-ed pieces on open legal cases, but did so, given the national attention to Farrell’s case.