District attorney files manslaughter charges against Las Cruce Police officer for February death

Las Cruces News
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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A Las Cruces Police Department officer is facing manslaughter charges in connection with the February death of a man after a “vascular neck restraint technique” was allegedly used.

Officer Christopher Smelser will face involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with the Feb. 29 death of Antonio Valenzuela, according to a news release from the Dona Ana County District Attorney’s Office.

Valenzuela was pulled over for a traffic stop and had an open warrant for a parole violation. He allegedly fled on foot and officers used their tasers on him twice without any affect, the release said.

“Valenzuela was continually struggling to get away, once on the ground, during this struggle, Officer Smelser applied a vascular neck restraint technique to gain control,” the release said. “It is police policy that after any use of force, fire and ambulance are called upon to provide medical care, if necessary.”

He died as on the scene and the Dona Ana County Officer Incident Task Force investigated the case.

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