- Christopher Smelser, a former officer of the Las Cruces Police Department, is accused of hanging the Hispanic Antonio Valenzuela when he tried to arrest him
- The city of Las Cruces already had to pay a millionaire compensation to the family of the deceased today
- A judge accepted the accusation against Smelser and decided to open a case for second-serious murder
Christopher Smelser, a former police officer, was charged with second-degree murder in New Mexico for the death of a Hispanic.
Judge Casey Fitch, of the Third Judicial District Court in New Mexico, determined that Christopher Smelser must face a legal process for the murder of the Hispanic Antonio Valenzuela, whom he allegedly hanged.
Smelser, according to his arrest warrant, when he was an officer of the Las Cruces Police Department (LCPD) hanged Valenzuela with a wrestling brace to the neck while trying to stop him.
Judge Fitch made his decision on Friday, October 2, in a hearing that captured the attention of the victim’s family, which has demanded justice since the event occurred on Saturday, February 29.
Judge Fitch’s determination to try Christopher Smelser occurs in the national context of protests in the United States, for cases of police abuse against the African-American and Hispanic communities.
“Based on the evidence, I find probable cause to hold the defendant responsible for murder in the second degree for being responsible for that crime,” explained Judge Fitch in his decision against the former police officer Smelser.
Judge Fitch’s decision was based on two autopsy reports by independent physicians who certified that Antonio Valenzuela died by hanging after receiving great pressure on his neck that cut off his breath.
The fighting movement that ex-police officer Christopher Smelser applied to Antonio Valenzuela’s neck is prohibited by various police departments in the United States as a tactic to make an arrest.
As of this writing, former police officer Christopher Smelser has not been arrested and is already facing trial.
On Saturday, February 29, LCPD Officer Smelser attempted to arrest a Hispanic man for a lack of traffic.
However, for some reason the Hispanic driver of the car as soon as he saw him stop the police officer stopped his car and ran down the street.
So the patrolman went after the man and ran up to him and then knocked him to the ground shouting “I’m going to hang you brother!” while holding him with his forearm by the neck and using the other arm as a lever.
After a brief struggle, the Hispanic man, identified as Antonio Valenzuela, collapsed at the scene. When other officers arrived to assist his partner, the detainee was already dead on the street.
Upon identifying the Hispanic, the agents discovered that the man had a criminal record for various crimes. During the autopsy, the forensic doctors determined that Valenzuela, 29 at the time of death, had used methamphetamine moments before his death.
According to the legal documents of the case consulted by MundoHispánico, the autopsy details that the amount of drugs was also a factor that contributed to the death of Antonio Valenzuela.
The list of injuries to Valenzuela’s body includes crushed tracheal bones, broken ribs, swelling in the brain and burst blood vessels in the eyes.
The official accusation against former police officer Christopher Smelser was filed last Thursday, October 1 by Héctor Balderas on New Mexico State Attorney General.
The former police officer had originally been fired from the LCPD following an investigation by the Internal Affairs Division and was later charged with negligent homicide.
However, that process was annulled and Prosecutor Balderas took the case on the grounds that he was “focusing on the correct charges for the dangerous violent strangulation” as detailed in his request to the judge. The second-degree murder charge is much more serious than the wrongful death charge.
Amy L. Orlando, the former policeman’s lawyer, detailed in her opening arguments that the legal move against her client to accuse him of murder in the second degree was only a strategy to attract the attention of the media.
Orlando, a Hispanic attorney with more than 20 years of experience, was a Doña Ana County Attorney in New Mexico. As of this writing, the attorney has not responded to the request for MundoHispánico for an interview about the accusation against your client.
The city of La Cruces has already had to pay the family of Antonio Valenzuela millionaire compensation for the murder of the man.
Last June the city’s legal department, according to civil records, reached a compensation agreement with the man’s family. The exact figure is not disclosed in the legal documents of the case due to a confidentiality agreement between the two parties.
The death of the Hispanic by the now ex-police officer caused the LCPD to change its arrest policy.
Now the LCPD has issued a law within the corporation that prohibits any form of strangulation during an arrest. Any of its officers who violates it, in civilian clothes or in uniform, will be immediately fired from the corporation and may even be detained by their own colleagues.
The trial of former police officer Christopher Smelser for the death of Antonio Valenzuela will continue next Monday, October 5 after Judge Fitch accepted the accusation presented by the prosecution.
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