Mom in N.M. car chase explains why she ran from cops

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(CNN) — 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 the officer pulls out his Taser and chases the boy 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.


  • Dustin Cavanaugh

    So cops can shoot at a van KNOWING there are children inside and they are doing nothing wrong. The mother was not in the right but the police are stupid as hell and deserve to be charged with attempted murder for shooting at a van with children in it.

    • Mary

      Yep, she shouldn’t have taken off in the first place. And shouldn’t she be trying to set a better example for her kids? But I agree that the officers had no right to use deadly force for this and they should get reprimanded big time.

    • K

      “Doing nothing wrong……” ???? Did you watch the video? Speeding, evading the police, to name just 2 of many. It’s always someone else’s fault for not doing the right thing. Blame someone else for bad behavior. How about just take the ticket like she should have done in the first place? Ridiculous.

  • terre n

    no respect for your children or the law got your vans tires shot at lady.Oh and is that son of yours who attacked the officer one of obamas sons,or could he be?

  • Cameron Martin

    I wish that nice cop would have tazed her and her son. What a very patient man. And shooting at tires is what they are trained to do. Btw the cop that used the fire arm was not aware of the passengers not that it matters. The women should be charged for attempted murder for taking her children on an unnecessary high speed chase!

    • Vastly Amused

      On what planet is “shooting at the tires” of a mini-van full of children is “what [police officers] are trained to do”??? Because they aren’t trained to do that here in Virginia, they aren’t trained to do that in Georgia, in Florida, in any state I’m familiar with.

      • Vastly Amused

        Don’t misunderstand- she was 100% wrong for running, her son was wrong for assaulting the officer. But as my brother- a retired LEO- pointed out- why didn’t any of the police officers block her vehicle when they arrived? And his opinion- the officer shooting should be suspended at the very least. Situation appears to have been mishandled, but she still broke the law.

  • Sheila gay

    If she would have done what the police asked her to do none of this would have happened! And for her to make a statement as a SINGLE MOTHER OF 5 she should have had to face this treatment! What does that have to do with it! When your pulled by the police for breaking the law YOU DO WHAT THEY ASK YOU TO DO!! All her fault end of story!!!! Please people !

    • Kathy Grant Guymond

      It was” a single African American mother of 5 ” I guess the race card is pulled again. Even if it had been a single white mother of 5 she should have done what the cop said to do. If she had just stayed there would have just gotten a ticket and been gone. Being an African American single mother of 5 does NOT give her the right to not obey the law !! Period !!

    • Kathy Grant Guymond


  • athynz

    The ONLY thing I agree with this woman on is that the cop should not have fired his weapon at the vehicle. Beyond that, no, just no. She was speeding – a few MPH shy of reckless – and the cop was doing his job by pulling her over. Perhaps if she hadn’t have decided to leave before she could be ticketed then none of the rest of the events would have happened. She would not have been asked to get out, her son would not have attempted to fight the cop, and he would not have made the dumb mistake of firing his weapon.

    And what makes it worse is her playing the race card from the get-go. Sorry lady, between that and the whole “woe is me because I tried to leave before I could get ticketed” act I have little sympathy – and all of what I do have is due to the idiot firing his weapon and using his baton to break the window.

  • lisa

    She also faces a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia…. this is why she took off. She didn’t want to get caught with this stuff. So blame everyone else but yourself.

    • Theodore

      I don’t think she should have run away from the police, but drug paraphernalia can include innocuous things like rubber gloves that have other uses. A Drug paraphernalia charge is a cop’s way of discrediting people without having to find any drugs.

  • April

    I REALLY THINK THIS MOTHER SHOULD GO FREE, SHE HAS THE RIGHT to protect HER FOUR CHILDren.My own son would do the same for me.

  • April

    So what she ran from the cops, at least she didnt murder no one.Only thing they
    did wrong was take her away from her children.

  • April

    Cops are the ones that are phsyco.Let this mother go.She did nothing wrong. Grabbing her out of her car,wasnt the answer to this situation.Of course the son didnt harm anyone.She was only pretecting her children.

  • Cari

    She was really stupid to drive away, not once but twice! She deserves everything she gets! However, the van being shot at with minors in the car is crazy! Something should be done with those officers as well! Her son, he was trying to defend his mother, however, he shouldn’t of! Now he is going to jail! I understand that the officer was scared! The mother made really stupid choices and now everyone is paying!

  • Trav E

    She definitely shouldn’t of ran but that gives no excuse for police officers to fire shots inside a vehicle full of kids.. The New Mexico police are about as crooked as they come , Remember the man who was just recently forced to undergo cavity search and enema at a local hospital , on the suspicion he had drugs , which none were found , yep NM police . and plenty more just do a search! They need to retrain these officers and stop this madness!!

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