Christopher Smelser

Christopher Smelser, a former Las Cruces police officer, is accused of second-degree murder. Smelser is accused of placing Antonio Valenzuela, 40, in a chokehold that caused his death. Antonio Valenzuela had a warrant for his arrest and had fled from a traffic stop. Eventually, Smelser caught up with Valenzuela and placed him in a vascular neck restraint. Lapel camera footage released by the Las Cruces Police Department shows Smelser cursing at Valenzuela and threatening to 'choke him out.' The Office of the Medical Investigator ruled the death a homicide. The autopsy report lists Valenzuela's injuries as a crushed Adam's apple, broken ribs, swelling in the brain and popped blood vessels of the eyes. The report also states methamphetamine inside Valenzuela's body aided in his death.