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Officer shoots at minivan full of children. Justified or not?

Interesting incident here. Just so happened it was outside of Taos, NM, so the local news heavily covered this story. And in following what seems to be the norm now, most news teams are chastising the police. 

Here is the dashboard cam video from the initial officer’s car. Please watch the video before reading further.

The mother brought all of this upon her. What the hell was she thinking by driving away??? Is she so daft to believe that the officer would think, “oh well, that one got away” as if he was fishing and his catch broke the line and swam off? There seems to be an increasing number of controversial police actions in the news these days, but in this specific incident, the officer that pulled her over was nothing less than polite and professional. I have a feeling he was just going to write a warning, anyway. There’s nothing that specifically stands out to give me that feeling – just a gut instinct because the tone of his voice was very polite and had an air of caring in it.

Then she becomes a complete idiot – and with six children in the vehicle!

The primary question of debate is, however, was the arriving officer justified in shooting at the mini-van?

I would like to know if the shooting officer was aware there were children in the van. He arrived late on the scene, just as the van was starting to drive away – again. The windows are dark tinted and from behind, one cannot see inside the van. The shooting officer very well may not have known about the children. Put yourself in his shoes….

Officer talking to passengerHere is a woman who has been combative since the very first moment – verbally at first, then eventually physical, with her son eventually joining in (like mother like son). She has driven away already, resisted arrest, and physically fought against the officer – who, I would like to emphasize, was not attempting to hit. Yes, the officer did take his billy club and used it to break the window in an attempt to stop them from fleeing, but not to beat the hell out of anyone. If that was his intent, he would have done so by now.

It would be perfectly natural for any officer, or civilian for that matter, to assume that one of the following circumstances is occurring: she has a warrant out for her arrest; is known to have a record with violent convictions and is considered to be dangerous; is harboring a fugitive; and/or has dangerous and illegal cargo (ie illegal guns); and/or illegal drugs. Certainly not white unicorns with pink ribbons. A sane and innocent person does not act in such a manner.

Although I’m not entirely comfortable with the thought of the officer shooting when he has not been shot upon, nor any of the other officers in this specific case, After much thought, I do feel he was justified in firing his handgun only because was shooting at the tire. Additionally, with a steady increase in officers being unexpectedly shot during normal duties, I cannot say that I blame him for reacting the way he did. These officer shootings must be on their minds and be a constant concern. At least the shooting officer did have the presence of mind to shoot at the tire and not the back window as he would not have missed that target.

In the long run, a simple traffic violation should have never got to the point where an officer needed to pull his firearm. Keep in mind, the original officer did pull his taser first, and I never saw him pull his firearm. Just his stick. This mother put her children in danger, and this brings up some very valid concerns as to the conditions these children live under.

As it turned out, there were two marijuana pipes found in the van. Weed is still illegal in New Mexico. Is this why she tried to get away? Nothing more than a misdemeanor would have resulted from the paraphenalia, and I’m sure she would have easily bonded out. Even then, if she had just taken the ticket or warning at the very beginning of the debacle, I seriously doubt the officer would have searched the vehicle and found the pipes. Did she really think she would be able to get away with it?


  1. I agree that the mother was bringing serious trouble upon herself by taking off, after being pulled over, and that when someone drives off like that, it’s usually because of an outstanding warrant, or something they have in the vehicle that’s illegal.

    She then made things worse by resisting arrest, and when she took off again at high speed, and pulled into the wrong lane of oncoming traffic she was driving very dangerously and she could have caused serious injury or even death to other drivers, herself, and her own children.

    The TV news station’s coverage was obviously intentionally sensationalized and misleading, in an effort to create lots of controversy by demonizing the police involved in the incident with biased and distorted reporting. This is one more example of the all too typical bullshit tactics used by many TV news stations, as a way to boost their ratings by getting lots more viewers to watch their TV “news” program, instead of impartially reporting the facts about what actually took place.

    The grey haired TV news “reader” (won’t give him the credit he doesn’t deserve, by calling him a reporter) made an inflammatory false statement when at the beginning of the “coverage” 14 seconds into the video, he said that the police were “… firing shots INTO a minivan with five kids inside.” As you pointed out, Michelle, the police officer was shooting at the tires, which I could clearly see was what actually happened in the video, when I watched it a second time.

  2. This has made the national news resulting in an investigation of the police officers involved in the ‘incident’. Woman…wrong on all counts…should lose custody of children because of her reckless choice of child endangerment. Arriving police…wrong in wontonly firing at the fleeing vehicle…under any circumstance that did not involve being fired upon. I don’t buy the ‘attempt to stop the vehicle by firing at the tires’. Too great of an opportunity for the shot(s) to miss and strike either a party in the vehicle or perhaps an oncoming driver. A better tact would have been to call ahead to set up a road block at a point beyond the initial stop.

    • Yeah. I’m not real thrilled about firing at the minivan either. I think the cop reacted because the unknown and her desperation to get away from the cops. The firing cop knew there were kids in the minivan, but I would wonder if there is someone else in there that is wanted by the police. Still doesn’t make it right to fire upon the van, but just helps explain his actions. I know I would wonder who or what she’s hiding in there.

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