ALBUQUERQUE, N.M — The vanload of black children who were shot at by a New Mexico State Police officer have admitted they may have contributed to the chaos by not wearing their safety belts.
According to KRQE in Albuquerque, an officer pulled over Oriana Ferrell in Taos, N.M. for going 71 mph in a 55 mph zone on Oct. 28. Ferrell claimed to have brought her gang of five children, aged 6 to 18, from Tennessee on an educational trip.
After Ferrell’s argument with the officer over her speeding ticket escalated into a high-speed chase, another officer fired three shots at the runaway minivan, but failed to kill or injure Ferrell or any of her children.
Initially citing “concerns relating to the conduct of the officer who discharged his firearm,” New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas called off an internal investigation into the incident after receiving an apology from Ferrell’s lawyer.
“Ms. Ferrell and her children would like to apologize for their conduct that made the police officers feel threatened, which included being in a group of more than three and not wearing their safety belts,” read the statement from defense attorney Alan Maestas.
“If [the children] had remained buckled up like they were supposed to, the officers may not have faced the difficult decision of having to discharge their firearms,” continued the statement.
Maestas also thanked the officers for their efforts to keep New Mexico safe from black families and minivans.
The New Mexico Department of Motor Vehicles website states that violators of its safety belt laws may be fined $25 and have two points assessed on their license, but because the children didn’t have drivers licenses, police had to resort to deadly force.
State Police are not releasing the names of the officers involved<, but one officer reportedly called the incident “a terrifying split-second decision.”
“It’s every troopers nightmare to have to use his firearm in the line of duty, but all of those people in one van, and not one of them wearing a seatbelt. What was I supposed to do? Remain calm?”
“One of them was even wearing a hooded sweatshirt, or a ‘hoodie’ as they call them.”