Elias Montoya, the police officer who fired shots at a minivan as the driver pulled away during a traffic stop, has been placed on paid leave.
New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas told The Associated Press on Thursday that Officer Elias Montoya was placed on paid leave Wednesday pending a disciplinary investigation into the late October shooting outside Taos, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Montoya fired three times at a minivan full of children as their mother drove away from a contentious traffic stop. The mother, Oriana Farrell, had five children, ranging in age from 6 to 16 years old, inside the van at the time of the traffic stop.
According to details in a police report, Montoya said he was trying to shoot out a tire “in an attempt to immobilize the vehicle” when he fired three shots as the 39-year-old Farrell drove the van away from officers for a second time after she had been stopped for speeding.
Kassetas had called for an internal investigation after video of the encounter between three officers and Farrell drew national attention. The three officers involved, including one who bashed out a window of the van as children inside screamed, had all previously been placed back on duty. The Taos district attorney has said they will not face criminal charges.
The Huffington Post reports that Farrell had been stopped by state police for speeding and fled twice after arguing with an officer. She and her teen son were later arrested.