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ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The New Mexico State Police officer who fired shots at a minivan full of children during a chaotic October traffic stop has been placed on administrative leave, an agency official said Thursday.
Officer Elias Montoya was placed on paid leave Wednesday pending a disciplinary investigation into the shooting outside the northern New Mexico tourist town of Taos, State Police Chief Pete Kassetas told The Associated Press.
Kassetas called for an internal investigation after video from a police cruiser’s dashboard camera taken Oct. 28 drew national attention.
The video showed Montoya shooting at the minivan as a Memphis, Tenn., woman drove away from a chaotic traffic stop that included another officer bashing her van’s window with his nightstick. The motorist, 39-year-old Oriana Farrell, had been stopped by state police for speeding and fled twice after arguing with an officer. Montoya fired three shots at the minivan, which also was carrying Ferrell’s five children. Montoya wrote in a police report that he aimed “at the left rear tire in an attempt to immobilize the vehicle.”
The footage also showed Farrell disobeying the officer’s orders, including driving off after being told to take her keys out of the vehicle.