Prosecutor: Woman may face new charges in chase where officer fired on van full of kids

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TAOS, New Mexico — New Mexico prosecutors aim to file new charges against a Tennessee woman in a chaotic traffic stop and chase last year during which a New Mexico State Police officer fired shots at her minivan full of children.

Taos County District Attorney Donald Gallegos told KRQE-TV (http://goo.gl/RbJQGZ ) this week that he will present Oriana Farrell's case before another grand jury sometime this month.

"We have probable cause that she committed one or more crimes in this county but it will be up to a grand jury to determine that," Gallegos said. "If we indict her, we'll go forward."

Alan Maesta, Farrell's lawyer, did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.

Last year, a state officer shot at Farrell's van carrying her five children after she twice sped off and was stopped by another officer for speeding near the northern tourist town of Taos. Video of the Oct. 28 shooting gained national attention, and the officer, Elias Montoya, was later fired.

Farrell has said she was trying to protect her family when she twice sped away from officers. Nobody was injured by the officer's gunfire, and Montoya said he learned that there were children in the vehicle when Farrell stopped in front of a Taos hotel. He said he was aiming at a tire to stop the vehicle.

She was indicted on charges including fleeing an officer and child abuse, but the New Mexico Court of Appeals last week ordered that Farrell's indictment be dismissed because the grand jury wasn't handled properly. A juror was excused by the district attorney's office because of a potential conflict in the case, but the court said the prosecutor shouldn't have been involved in the dismissal.

Farrell went to the Court of Appeals after a lower court rejected her request to dismiss the charges because of grand jury irregularities.


Information from: KRQE-TV, http://www.krqe.com

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