DA explains why officers weren't charged in minivan shooting

Posted at: 11/19/2013 6:22 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

On Tuesday for the first time, Taos district attorney Donald Gallegos spoke about an officer-involved shooting at a minivan with five kids inside.

Gallegos is preparing to prosecute the mom behind the wheel of the van in the infamous dash cam video. He talked about his controversial decision that many saw coming, but left others scratching their heads.   

Nine charges have been filed against the driver, Oriana Farrell, but none will be brought against the officers who responded that day.

"You see a lot in this job," Gallegos said. "But I was just thinking to myself, there might be something else going on here that we don't know about."

Right now, eyes across the nation seem to be on a little stretch of highway near Taos.

"Video evidence is always very helpful," Gallegos said.

He says it's the video evidence that probably turned the dramatic traffic stop into national news this week.

"It gives--in good detail--information about what happened," he said.

Gallegos filed nine charges against the mother of five, including drug paraphernalia possession, child abuse and resisting arrest after the traffic stop-turned-high-speed-chase.

In the dash cam video, shots ring out as a state trooper aims for Farrell's tires as she flees.

"There were more than one person potentially in danger because of the actions of this person," he said.

But Gallegos says no charges will be filed against any of the officers involved.

"My decision was less on the officer's behavior than it was on the defendant's behavior," he said.

Gallegos says it's clear Farrell presented officers with a difficult situation. Their response won't be a legal matter yet.

"Whether the officers responded correctly or not is a training matter. They'll deal with that with their chief," he said.

An internal review has been launched by the state police to determine whether those officers reacted appropriately.     

A spokesman for the agency says there's no timeline for the inquiry.     

Meanwhile, Farrell is said to be looking for a place to stay while she fights her charges. Her kids are believed to be with a friend in Santa Fe.