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Charges dropped against boy in Taos van chase case

SANTA FE, N.M. — After a restorative justice circle was held for about three hours on Wednesday, charges of battery and assault on a peace officer were dropped against a teenager whose mother led police on a chase caught on video in October.

Hezekiah Farrell had struggled with officers along with his mother Oriana Farrell, after she left the scene of two traffic stops with State Police for speeding allegations. In the second chaotic stop, an officer breaks the van’s window with a baton as children scream inside and another officer fires at Farrell’s van and was later dismissed from the force. She is charged with aggravated fleeing from a police officer and child abuse.

“We entered into an agreement with the defense to do a restorative justice circle,” said 8th Judicial District Attorney Donald Gallegos. He said the boy, 14, had been home-schooled and had a good future and it is not the intent of the Children’s Code to merely punish. The youth was evaluated by juvenile probation, Gallegos said.

“We wanted the opportunity to have a dialogue with the child in a restorative justice circle,” Gallegos said. Those circles are often used after convictions in which those convicted meet with victims and try to come to some form of consensus over what transpired.

“We are not out to drag any child through the mud, so to speak,” said Gallegos. Asked if charges would be dropped against Oriana Farrell, Gallegos responded, “this has nothing to do with that. There are always possibilities but we are ready to go to trial.”

Wednesday’s restorative justice circle was facilitated by retired state District Judge Peggy Nelson and was held at a local church. Oriana Farrell, attorneys, Gallegos and others were present.



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