Officer who Shot at Van Suspended, Fellow-Cop Requests that Governor Review Case

You’ve probably seen a two to five minute clip of a New Mexico state police officer shooting at what the media has portrayed as a “vanload of kids” and what many on the right “libertarian” wing have portrayed as a disgusting example of “police state” control, or something.  While I have spoken out against law enforcement over-stepping boundaries in the past, as in the recent Luna County incident, this story involving state police struck me differently, and I have not commented much.

A recent video I was sent this week clarified the situation and painted the entire incident in a different light– it runs over eighteen minutes long.  A cop pulls over a woman who was driving 71 in a 55 with an expired license.  He only ticketed her for the speed and requested she sign the ticket.  She flatly refused and after she argued with him for minutes, he returned to his car to call for backup.  She sped off and he pursued.  She stops again, this time he requests she step out of the car.  Arguing follows and she finally steps out of the car, but quickly returns to the van when she realizes she is going to be arrested.  Two teenagers jump out of the van.  And they run back into the vehicle as two more state police officers arrive at the scene.  Officer one breaks in a window on the van to pull open the door of the van and the van pulls away, while a second officer fires at the van as it pulls away.

Note that the second and third state policemen were only coming to the aid of their fellow-officer and did not know who were inside the van, only that there was a commotion and a “routine” traffic stop that had gone awry.  He didn’t know there were children in the van, only that his fellow officer needed help.

The entire video can be seen below:

The first cop actually handled the situation very well.  He was polite and tried to work with the woman.  What more could he do?  What do you do with someone who refuses to follow the law all that is left is force?  The woman could have easily gotten numerous people killed as well as her vanload of kids.

Now Officer Elias Montoya has been suspended as a state police officer.  A fellow law enforcement member Rick Anglada posted the following on Facebook.

CopFacebookPostWill this situation be further investigated?  For Justice’ sake, I hope so.

10 Comments

  1. force WAS NOT the only choice left. The police could have waited until another day .Is it worth a persons life to get an arrest?

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    1. Waited until another day? She didn’t live in Taos county. She was from Tennessee driving a van full of kids and drug paraphernalia under an expired license at 100 mph through a school zone. When she fled the state police the first time, she committed a felony. Removing her from our roads protects everyone, her kids included.

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      1. You have the Tennessee part right, but lose me after that. The cop stated she was driving 71 in a 55. Secondly, I don’t remember any school zones in the part of the highway she was driving. Lots of curves in the road, but no school zone.

        And yes, she did commit a felony and she has no business being on the road if she is going to behave that way– for that matter, her teenagers seemed out of hand too.

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      2. She was initially pulled over for driving 71 in a 55 mph zone. At the time she was pulled over, she had already exited US Hill, was past SMU and heading into Talpa where the speed limit changes to 35 mph. The State Police tend to patrol the area around Talpa in the afternoon because Ranchos Elementary school is off 518 and drivers tend to blast through the area.

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      3. Yes, but she hadn’t hit that area at the point she was first pulled over. She didn’t go 100 (or at least 96, which was what the cop cam shows) until AFTER she had already committed the felony.

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      4. I’m not sure where the argument is. She was pulled over just outside of Talpa for exceeding the speed limit. The SP found she was driving on an expired license and the officer told her to remain at the back of her vehicle. She bolted and was pulled over again. At this point, she resisted arrest and her son attacked the officer. Other SP units arrived and the family locked themselves into the minivan. She refuses the lawful orders of the SP and they try to detain her (including shooting at the driver’s side rear tire) She bolts again and hits speeds of 100mph through a school zone (The cop cam actually does show her at 100mph just past the elementary school). I mentioned that the SP patrols in and around Talpa in the afternoon because speeding there is common and when the school day ends, there are a lot of kids on the sidewalks and crossing the road.

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  2. I support our men & women of law enforcement.

    I feel the decision to terminate Officer Montoya was made in haste for the sake of satisfying the ever increasing sensationalistic “Breaking News” media that we’ve all come to accept as balanced news.

    There was no intent on Officer Montoya to hurt, harm, or kill the passengers in the van. I know this because there was NOT 1 round fired into the rather large rear window or the even larger surface space of the vans back door. He’s an experienced shooter, he easily could have hit those targets from that distance and his position. He absolutely was trying to disable the vans ability to drive away by shooting the tires out, nothing more, nothing less.

    I do support a just discipline in the spirit of learning from the incident for all NMSP officers. These sanctions could have included a suspension, leave without pay, a letter of reprimand in his personnel file, retraining, or ALL of the above. What he received was punishment.

    I pray he gets his career back through the legal process.

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