New Mexico police officer caught on bodycam saying ‘I’m going to choke you, brother’ before murdering a Latino suspect in a chokehold after a traffic stop has been charged with second-degree murder
- Antonio Valenzuela died February 29 after Las Cruces police officer Christopher Smelser placed him in a chokehold after fleeing a traffic stop
- Smelser was fired and charged with manslaughter; the charges have now been upgraded to first-degree murder
- Valenzuela’s autopsy revealed that he died of asphyxiation by the chokehold; methamphetamines in his body also contributed to his death
- Smelser’s lawyer called the revised allegations “sad” and suggested it was a political move meant to make headlines
- Officer Smelser used a technique approved by the department. He was trained in engineering … and now he’s a criminal? ‘ she said
A New Mexico police officer has been charged with first-degree murder after authorities said he murdered a Latino prisoner who he placed in a chokehold.
Christopher Smelser was fired from the Las Cruces Police Department and initially received a manslaughter for the death of Antonio Valenzuela on February 29.
However, the charges were reviewed on Thursday following nationwide demonstrations caused by the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in custody.
Protesters have pressured police forces to change policies that use violence and interactions with black, Latino and Native American residents.
Police say 40-year-old Valenzuela fled during a traffic jam in the early hours of February 29.
Two officers tried Valenzuela twice in vain before Smelser put him in the chokehold. Valenzuela, 40, had an arrest warrant.
Bodycam images obtained by La Cruces Sun News showed that Smelser struggled with Valenzuela for about four minutes.
“I’m going to choke you, brother,” you hear Smelser in the images against the suspect.
Las Cruces police officer Christopher Smelser has been charged with first-degree murder for the death of 40-year-old Antonio Valenzuela on February 29
Valenzuela was heard gasping for breath shortly afterwards.
The father of four fell unconscious and died on the spot. Paramedics were called, but they couldn’t bring him to life.
Smelser, who joined the police in 2016, was given administrative leave immediately after the February 29 incident, pending the results of the Valenzuela autopsy.
The autopsy, which only returned on June 4, revealed that Valenzuela died of asphyxiation asphyxiation.
Bodycam video captured Las Cruces police officer Christopher Smelser using a vascular neck rest, or choke hold, on Christopher Smelser moments before dying during a February arrest
He found Valenzuela’s autopsy report had petechial or precise bleeding in his eyes and eyelids, which indicates suffocation and may occur when the neck or chest is compressed.
His neck had deep muscle bleeding, his Adam’s apple was broken, and his ribs were broken.
The report states that methamphetamine also played a role in his death because the drug likely put pressure on his cardiovascular system.
Valenzuela lived with his grandparents and worked as a painter and mechanic.
He had a history of drug crime charges and minor traffic offenses.
Valenzuela lived with his grandparents and worked as a painter and mechanic. He had a history of drug crime charges and minor traffic offenses
State Attorney General Hector Balderas announced the revised charges on Thursday, saying he wanted to “ focus on appropriate charges for violent and dangerous chokeholds. ”
However, Smelser’s lawyer, Amy L. Orlando, called the new charge “sad” and suggested that it was a political move meant to make headlines.
Officer Smelser used a technique approved by the department. He is trained in technology. And then suddenly it is banned and he is a criminal, “she told The Associated Press.