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New Mexico Officer Charged with Killing Man in Neck Restraint During Traffic Stop

HeadlineJun 09, 2020

In New Mexico, a Las Cruces police officer has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of a man after a traffic stop in February. The officer, Christopher Smelser, remains free on bail. He is accused of killing Antonio Valenzuela by placing him in a neck restraint. Smelser is heard on a newly released lapel video telling Valenzuela, “I’m going to [expletive] choke you out, bro.” Even after Valenzuela lost consciousness, the video shows Smelser made no attempt to help him. Instead he is heard describing his encounter with Valenzuela as a “good little fight.” Antonio Valenzuela was a father of four who worked as a painter. According to The Washington Post, Las Cruces, New Mexico, had the highest rate of police killings of any city in the country between 2015 and 2019.

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