ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque family is joining the push to pull a national television ad.
They believe the ad, which debuted during the Super Bowl, for the new Toyota Prius is insensitive, saying there is nothing funny about bank robbers leading police on a chase.
The original spot starts with bank robbers’ getaway car getting towed. They see a Toyota Prius and make a run for it, in the commercial.
“This thing is actually pretty fast,” an officer notes during the fictional pursuit.
But six years ago last month, the New Mexico Bank and Trust on Louisiana was robbed. A police pursuit then occurred, and the robber, Jeremiah Jackson, crashed into a stop light on Coors near I-40. Janice Flores and Kimberly Aragon Nunez were killed during their lunch break.
Reached by phone in Los Angeles, Lucas Aragon, Kimberly’s brother, said, “It’s been six years, but honestly it just feels like the other day.”
“My initial reaction to the commercial is that it was irresponsible for Toyota to utilize that as a marketing tool to sell their product, and if anything, it just glamorizes and encourages more police chases,” he said.
He’s not the only one. Jonathan Farris, chief advocate for the organization Pursuit For Change, released an “Open Letter to Toyota” on Monday. His son, Paul, was killed nine years ago and was an innocent bystander of a police pursuit.
In the letter, Farris expressed frustration with the series of Prius ads, saying they disrespect victims and law enforcement.
Aragon said, “I think ever since the O.J. Simpson Bronco chase, this has become a form of entertainment for people — and it needs to stop because it kills innocent people, and until it’s affected you, you kinda don’t know how tragic this can be to someone.”
In response to learning about the Aragon family concerns, the general manager of Toyota of Santa Fe said he requested that the regional ad agency pull the Prius police chase ads.
In addition, KRQE News 13 reached out to the corporate offices of Toyota for comment.
“Toyota’s 2016 Prius campaign is meant to be a lighthearted showcase of the unexpected features and improved performance and styling of the all-new 2016 Prius, along with its well-known fuel efficiency,” a statement issued Monday afternoon said. “This tongue-in-cheek parody is in no way intended to be disrespectful of our nation’s law enforcement personnel, whose service to our communities we deeply appreciate, or anyone who may have been affected in this manner by a high speed police chase,” the statement concluded.