Created: 12/12/2013 10:29 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Hundreds gathered in Taos on Thursday night to show their support for fired State Police officer Elias Montoya.
In a now infamous dash-cam video, Montoya is shown shooting at the tires of a fleeing mini-van after a traffic stop near Taos in October.
The van was driven by Oriana Farrell of Tennessee, who was vacationing in New Mexico with her five kids.
Many in the tight-knit community of Taos told KOB Eyewitness News 4 they believe Montoya is a scapegoat.
Despite a very last-minute change of venue, Montoya's supporters flooded the Rio Grande Hall in downtown Taos on Thursday night.
There were so many people, there weren't even enough chairs.
"It did not surprise me at all," said Montoya's sister, Rachel Montoya.
A turnout of hundreds is exactly what Elias Montoya's sister expected.
"My brother's my brother. I love my brother," she said.
Rachel Montoya says her brother has been keeping to himself since his firing from the New Mexico State Police on December 6.
"I call him daily," said Rachel Montoya. "I ask him, 'Brother, how are you doing?' He says, 'Fine.'"
His sister says Elias couldn't come to the rally, but he knows he has support. On Thursday night, he was refereeing a basketball game. It's something he does many Thursdays.
The biggest cheers in Taos on Thursday night likely didn't come from a gymnasium, but from the Rio Grande Hall.
Neighbors here say Montoya was fired unjustly after the infamous traffic stop.
"I've known him for a long time," said Dominic Martinez.
Martinez worked for the Taos Sheriff and crossed paths with his good friend Montoya often on the job.
"It's a traffic stop that went bad because the person in the van didn't want to cooperate," said Martinez.
Martinez says Elias Montoya is a scapegoat, and others echoed that. Folks asked why the other officers on the tape haven't been punished, too.
Many on Thursday night said the minivan driver was an outsider who didn't follow the rules, but Rachel Montoya says that's where it ends. She says race had nothing to do with her the way brother reacted.
"Red, yellow, black and white, I think we're all the same," said Rachel Montoya.
The Thursday night meeting was open to anyone who wanted to attend.
A meeting planned for Friday morning in Taos is another story.
Community and law enforcement leaders, along with representatives with the NAACP will meet tomorrow in a closed meeting to discuss this incident, and Montoya's firing.
KOB will report from Taos on Friday with the latest.