State police fire officer after investigation into shooting near Taos

A New Mexico State Police officer accused of using excessive force when he shot at a fleeing vehicle near Taos in October was fired Dec. 6.


A New Mexico State Police officer accused of using excessive force when he shot at a fleeing vehicle near Taos in October was fired Friday (Dec. 6), according to officials at the law enforcement agency.

Elias Montoya was terminated following an internal investigation into the incident, spokesperson Tony Lynn told The Taos News.

He declined to offer details of the inquiry's findings.

The officer, who worked at the law enforcement agency for 12 years, had been placed on leave with pay the previous day pending the investigation's outcome.

The shooting was one of four incidents across New Mexico that month in which state police officers used deadly force.

Montoya was responding to a call for assistance from fellow officer Tony DeTavis that afternoon. DeTavis stopped Oriana Farrell, a Memphis resident traveling in a minivan with her five children, for allegedly speeding on State Road 518 near Talpa.

Farrell drove away from the traffic stop before receiving a citation and was pulled over by DeTavis again about one mile down the road. A scuffle involving the officer, Farrell and her 14-year-old son ensued. The Tennessee resident drove away again and Montoya, who had just arrived, fired on the fleeing vehicle as another colleague drew his weapon. Officers followed Farrell at high speeds before she stopped in front of a hotel on Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Farrell and her son were taken into custody. She was charged with abuse of a child, aggravated fleeing of a law enforcement officer and possession of drug paraphernalia. Both have since been released.

Video footage of the incident captured by a dashboard-mounted camera inside DeTavis' vehicle garnered national media attention and prompted criticism of the law enforcement agency.

A contingent of 15-20 local residents marched on the Taos substation of the New Mexico State Police Sunday (Dec. 1) to deliver letters denouncing what they characterized as excessive use of force by the officer.

They were met by New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas who received their letters and later assented to meet with community leaders at a later date. That meeting was postponed.

Montoya has also received support from some Taos residents.

Plans for a march in support of the officer developed on the social networking website Facebook shortly after his termination was announced.

A contingent plans to rally in Taos Plaza at 11 a.m. Sunday (Dec. 8) before proceeding on foot to the New Mexico State Police substation on Paseo del Canon East.

Montoya was a veteran state police officer based out of the Taos substation.

He was profiled by The Taos News in 2010 for his work as a mentor with the local nonprofit organization NonViolence Works.


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