Lawsuit tied to Taos minivan traffic stop, shooting set for 2022 trial

New Mexico

TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) – Nearly seven years after a State Police traffic stop lead to an officer firing a gun at a minivan with a family inside, a lawsuit tied to the incident may finally go to trial. A Santa Fe judge has set a 2022 trial date for the civil rights lawsuit filed against New Mexico State Police by Oriana Farrell and her five kids.

Farrell and her family were traveling on a highway outside of Taos in October 2013 when Farrell was pulled over and accused of speeding. The initial officer who pulled her over claimed Farrell’s car was going 71 miles-per-hour in a 55 miles-per-hour zone.

New Mexico State Police dash camera video captured the incident as it spiraled out of control on the side of the road. When Farrell wouldn’t decide if she wanted to pay the ticket or go to court, the video shows her van drove away from the traffic stop.

A then-rookie state police officer pulled Farrell over a second time and tried to arrest her. Farrell’s kids intervened as the officer attempted to place Farrell in handcuffs. After a scuffle between the officer and one of Farrell’s kids, the officer drew his TASER before the family got back in the van.

Video shows as the family was inside the van, the officer used his baton to smash the van’s windows before Farrell drove the van away again. As the van took off, another responding state police officer arrived on the scene, firing three shots at the minivan’s tires.

Criminal charges filed against Farrell were eventually dismissed after she satisfied the conditions of a July 2015 plea deal. However, a long-standing civil lawsuit Farrell filed against NMSP in 2016 has not been settled. The lawsuit was initially filed in New Mexico state court, then moved into U.S. Federal Court, before being moved out of federal jurisdiction and reopened in New Mexico state court.

At a hearing Wednesday in Santa Fe District Court, Judge Matthew Wilson set a February 2022 trial date for the case. If the trial date holds, it will happen approximately eight and a half years after the infamous traffic stop.

Farrell’s attorney Kathryn Hardy told KRQE News 13 Thursday that like any civil case, there’s always a chance the case could be settled. However, Hardy said they are prepared to argue the case in trial.

The officer who initially pulled over Farrell’s minivan, Tony DeTavis is still on the force with NMSP. The officer who shot at the van, Elias Montoya left NMSP after the incident and now works for the Taos County Sheriff’s Office.

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