LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico police officer is facing involuntary manslaughter charges after a suspect he held in a chokehold, died. Las Cruces Police say back in February, Antonio Valenzuela fled from officers during a traffic stop.

During a struggle, officers tried tasing him, but when that didn’t work, investigators say Officer Christopher Smelser held Valenzuela in a “vascular neck restraint,” or chokehold. He subsequently died.

Friday, Las Cruces Police announced following Valenzuela’s autopsy results, Officer Smelser had been fired. Then, the Doña Ana County District Attorney announced manslaughter charges against him. The department also says it banned the use of that particular restraint after Valenzuela’s death.


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