Saturday, December 7, 2013

Consequences: The Incident on Highway 518

This is video of the protest in Taos led by Patrick Trujillo over the assault by New Mexico State Police officers against Oriana Farrell and her family, an assault which included three shots fired by Officer Elias Montoya at Farrell's vehicle as it sped away.

Officer Montoya has been fired.

This is almost unheard of in police annals these days, as practically any act under color of authority by police is considered "justified" by investigators, no matter how egregious and/or deadly.

However, from the video it seems clear that State Police Chief Kassetas is serious about an internal review and investigation of what happened that day in October on Highway 518, and about taking appropriate, timely action. This in itself is almost unheard of these days, as internal police reviews often take months or years, and it's almost a miracle if they don't justify police conduct.

This time, an officer actually lost his job as a consequence of his actions in firing at the Farrell vehicle.

Interestingly, however, the "problem officer" in the district was not said to be Montoya (though there had been other incidents concerning his use or display of firearms) but DeTavis, the original officer who confronted and argued with Farrell -- and who apparently terrified her and her children so much that they repeatedly fled.

Farrell has been arraigned and released as has her 14 year old son who was also charged in the incident. They are supposed to return to court next April, but what will happen between now and then is anyone's guess. Some reports have suggested that they will move to New Mexico or California from their home in Memphis, but so far, that is not really clear. Farrell has a great deal of support from the Memphis community, and though her actions in the incident appear to have been ill-advised, she may ultimately be exonerated.

The surprising thing is that one of the officers involved faced any consequences at all, and that the police chief not only met with the protesters personally but also spoke publicly on camera with them and about it.

Is it a trend?

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