ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — A New Mexico State Police officer who was fired after shooting at a minivan full of children near Taos got a new job Wednesday as a Taos County deputy.
Elias Montoya was one of two new deputies hired from a pool of 17 candidates, Taos Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.
"He's got a lot of experience and traffic work behind him," Hogrefe said about Montoya. "Nothing in his work background was negative (so) he'll be a valued member of our team."
Montoya was fired in December 2013 and later offered his job back with New Mexico State Police after he appealed to a public safety advisory council. Further details have not been released.
Still, Montoya chose to resign, saying he thought the agency no longer supported him.
Montoya, a 12-year veteran of the state police, was fired after an internal investigation was conducted into his use of force during the minivan shooting. Video footage showed Montoya firing into the van with five children inside during a chaotic traffic stop.
The driver of the minivan, Oriana Farrell of Memphis, Tennessee, said she was trying to protect her family when she twice sped away from officers.
Nobody was injured by the gunfire, and Montoya said he learned 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.
Farrell still faces other charges, including aggravated fleeing. Her trial is scheduled for April 27.
According to state records, Montoya maintains his law enforcement certification and can work at any law enforcement agencies in New Mexico.
Taos County District Attorney Donald Gallegos did not file any charges against Montoya for the shooting.
"Personally I feel very happy," Montoya told KOAT-TV in Albuquerque. "I'm glad that I'm back on the road, back on the streets, back in the community that I love."
Hogrefe said Montoya deserved another chance.
With the hiring of Montoya, the Taos County Sheriff's Department is now fully staffed with 16 deputies, Hogrefe said.
Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter: http://twitter.com/russcontreras