Oriana Farrell was terrified.
The single mother of five recalled an October 2013 traffic stop, when officers wrestled her out of her minivan along a New Mexico highway, and then shot at the vehicle as she tried to flee with her children inside. Video from a police dashboard camera captured the seemingly-routine traffic stop devolving into a tense incident.
“I started thinking about children who have been shot, families who have been shot,” she said in her first television interview that appeared today on “Good Morning America.”
“I started thinking about Trayvon Martin.”
The ordeal began when a police officer pulled Farrell over, alleging she was speeding. Farrell says when the officer walked away from the car without giving her a ticket she drove off, assuming she wasn’t getting one.
“I started pulling out slowly, like we do from any traffic stop,” she said.
That’s when the officer chased her down, trying to pull Farrell out of the vehicle as her children screamed.
For Farrell, confusion gave way to fear when the officer tried to arrest her. Her son Zeke – thinking his mother was in danger – got out of the car.
“He had his hands on her, and that wasn’t really OK with me,” Zeke said.
Moments later, backup arrived. As a shaken Farrell sped away, officer Elias Montoya fired three shots, unaware of who was in the car.
The appellate court has ordered Farrell's charges to be dismissed, but the case may not be over. The District Attorney can still refile, and the officer who fired his gun, Montoya, has appealed the decision to fire him.
No one was hurt, but Farrell says there’s a lesson to be learned.
“Even if I was speeding, that doesn’t require being shot at any point,” she said. “Even if he thought I drove off, that didn’t deserve us being shot at.”