krqe_ferrell_131118a-615x345The nation is reacting with outrage to a video from a routine traffic stop in New Mexico that shows officers using excessive force to stop a black woman who had been pulled over for speeding in a van filled with her five children. The officers fired multiple shots at the van with the children inside and bashed the passenger side window to get to the woman’s 14-year-old son.

While the actions of the woman, Oriana Ferrell, 39, can be questioned as she pulls away from an officer who told her to wait until he checked her license, it is the actions of the police officers in the video from their dashboard cam that appear to be especially outrageous and needlessly excessive.

At a time when African Americans are being gunned down for seeking help from homeowners (Renisha McBride) and police officers (Jonathan Ferrell) or just walking down the street with a bag of Skittles (Trayvon Martin), these sorts of incidents raise the question of whether we are still living in a society that devalues black life and black bodies. How else can you explain police officers shooting bullets at a car containing five children? Can you imagine they would have done the same thing if it was a car full of white children?

The video, which has gone viral after being shown on the “Today” show and other national news programs, captures the entire incident that occurred on Oct. 28 near the city of Taos, New Mexico. Ferrell was on her way to the Rio Grande on an educational trip with her children from their home in Tennessee.

The police officer pulled Ferrell over for going 71 in a 55 mph zone. After he approached the car and asked her to wait, she inexplicably drove away. He gave chase and pulled her over a second time. Visibly angry, the officer ran to the car, yelling, “Get out of the vehicle! Get out of the vehicle right now!”

The officer tries to pull Ferrell out of the vehicle and her 14-year-old son gets out and valiantly runs over to defend his mom—but the teen returns to the minivan after the officer aims a weapon at him. It is a Taser, but it’s possible the boy could have thought it was a gun.

“Sir, I pulled back over, I didn’t run away,” Ferrell pleads at one point. “You see my children. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m just trying to take them to the Rio Grande.”

The mother and the son struggle with the officer before getting back in the minivan. The officer then takes his baton and violently smashes the passenger side window where the 14-year-old boy is sitting.

As the family attempts to flee, a second officer fires at least three shots at the vehicle. Ferrell weaves in an out of traffic and eventually comes to a stop in front of a motel. She was arrested and charged with child abuse, fleeing an officer and possession of drug paraphernalia—the police found what they claimed were two marijuana pipes in the car. The 14-year-old boy was charged with battery.

The other children, ages 6 to 18, were taken into the custody the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department and were later placed in the care of a family known to Ferrell, according to court documents obtained by The Taos News.

Watch the troubling video below.

To read the rest of this post, go to

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Nick Chiles

Nick Chiles is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a New York Times bestselling author of 12 books, including the upcoming "The Rejected Stone: Al Sharpton and the Path To American Leadership," which he co-authored with Al Sharpton.


  1. I swear…I don’t know what it’s going to take for the madness to stop. Absolutely crazy!

  2. I don’t know why the mom decided she should drive off the first time. She put her own children in danger.

  3. Oh my goodness that was hard to watch! Why was she resisting so hard and what were those officers thinking?! Thank God none of the adult’s poor actions in this situation resulted in the death of an innocent child. My goodness.

  4. MakeBetterDecisions

    i’m sorry. but i think she put her children at risk. i mean get the speeding ticket and go about your business. and why in the world and who in the world do you think you are by driving off on a police officer especially for a traffic violation. was she ridin’ dirty. probably not. i think she is at fault here because the problem started with her bad decision. trayvon was being stalked. renisha was seeking help. this woman was speeding. you tell me.

  5. I agree with anyone who thinks that this was the mother’s fault. She put her own children in danger. The one officer was wrong for shooting at the car but at the same time he was doing his job. She was hostile for no real reason.

  6. I agree with the other comments here regarding the mother’s behavior. I disagree with the child abuse term and find it unfitting. I think that charge fits the officers behavior better. That one boils down to violence and who has the right to use it.
    The officer had a good look at the children in the vehicle. I also do not see a reason to go after the son once he was back in the vehicle. Also, it is a general rule when child abduction occurs or car jacking and their is a child in the car, that officers chase or sometimes do not chase for safety reasons or plan another tactic of surrender and do not endanger the life of the child.
    It would be worthwhile to look into other incidents involving chase and children and compare the outcomes. I suppose that will be the role of the attorney.
    I also did not hear her command her son to stay in the vehicle for his safety. Once when I was recording a racialized traffic stop involving my husband, the officer came to me and tried wrestling the camera from my hands. My husband, a man of color, walked toward the officer as another officer drew his weapon and all I could do was yell at everyone to STOP!

  7. The mother was at fault here. She escalated the situation and put her son in the position where he felt the need to defend her. She endangered all her children.

  8. The mother was at fault. She shouldn’t have resisted. And she drove away…twice. She also put other people and her children in danger by weaving in and out of traffic. I don’t think this was a race thing. She acted in a way that made her suspect and they responded. She should have stayed in the car, gotten the speeding ticket and went on. The article said there were drug pipes in the car, which is probably why she responded that way. Speeding, drug paraphernalia, fleeing the scene twice. She made things worse than if she had just gotten the ticket for speeding and gone on her merry way. Would they have shot their guns if it was a white family? Probably, if the behavior was the same. About a month ago a white dad called the police when his son took his truck. The police saw the truck and tried to stop the teen. He took them on a high speed chase that resulted in him being shot and killed. Moral of the story…don’t resist the police.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.