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Woman In Van Shooting Cites Fear For Family

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Memphis, Tenn., woman whose minivan was fired on by a New Mexico state police officer after a chaotic traffic stop says she was trying to keep her five children safe when she fled police, according to a written statement.

Oriana Farrell drove off from police near Taos on Oct. 28 after being pulled over for speeding and refusing to sign her ticket. After being stopped again, a videotape that has circulated widely on the Internet shows a police officer trying to pull her from her vehicle when she refuses to get out, her teenage son physically confronting the officer, the officer breaking out one of the vehicle’s windows and another officer firing shots as she again drove away.

The Santa Fe New Mexican (http://bit.ly/1ejUKxz ) reported Thursday that Farrell submitted a handwritten statement to the Taos News after being jailed.

Her statement fails to say why she refused to sign her citation and then drove off from her initial traffic stop. But in reference to the officer who fired shots at the vehicle, she said she was trying to get her children away from “such a terrifying individual.”

“A uniformed officer can shoot three bullets at my van and be considered to be ‘doing his job,’ but my doing what I can to get my own children away from such a terrifying individual has been termed ‘child abuse’ and ‘endangerment,'” she wrote.

The letter also stated: “An officer can use a baton to smash a glass window directly into the faces of my four young sons who were riding in the backseat, but somehow my attempts to protect them from further harm are dismissed because the perpetrator wore an official ‘state uniform,’ and has been hired to ‘protect and serve.'”

State police are investigating. The officer who fired the shots said he was trying to shoot out a tire to immobilize the van.

The mother and teen were arrested in front of a hotel after a brief chase. She has since been released on bond and faces charges of child abuse, fleeing and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia for a pair of marijuana pipes found in the van.

Farrell’s attorney, Alan Maestas, has not returned phone calls to The Associated Press. His office on Thursday said he was on vacation. Maestas, however, suggested to a judge last week that Farrell was acting out of fear for the safety of her children.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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