SANTA FE – Former New Mexico State Police officer Elias Montoya, dismissed last year after firing three shots at a fleeing van occupied by a mother and her five children, has been hired as a deputy sheriff in Taos County, Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe confirmed Tuesday.
Montoya has said he was unaware the van was full of children and that he was aiming at a rear tire when he shot at the van as it sped away on NM 518 south of Taos in October 2013.
The gunfire followed a chaotic encounter that started when another officer pulled the van driver over for speeding. The incident was recorded in a State Police dash-cam video that went viral and attracted international news attention and commentary.
Oriana Farrell, 40, the van driver and mother of the children in the vehicle, drove away from the scene without permission following the speeding stop, then pulled over again on the side of the highway after traveling a short distance. At that point, she and one of her sons struggled with officers, then refused to get out of the van. Farrell pulled away a second time after a second officer on the scene started bashing out a van window with his police baton as children inside screamed.