RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A former police officer in New Mexico was charged Thursday with second-degree murder after authorities say he killed a Latino detainee he had placed in a chokehold.
State Attorney General Hector Balderas said he filed the charges against former Las Cruces police Officer Christopher Smelser in the death of Antonio Valenzuela.
Police say Smelser applied the chokehold after a foot chase in February when Valenzuela fled during a traffic stop.
After the chase, Smelser can be heard on police video saying, “I’m going to (expletive) choke you out, bro.”
Valenzuela was pronounced dead at the scene. The coroner determined he died from asphyxial injuries.
Smelser, who is white, was initially charged with manslaughter and later fired.