Justice for Antonio "Tony" Valenzuela

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Antonio Valenzuela, 40, was pursued by police in February 2020. Police body cam showed that they pursued Mr. Valenzuela on foot, attempted to tase him, tackled him to the ground, and cuffed him. It was at this point that Officer Christopher Smelser placed Mr. Valenzuela in a choke hold and said, "I'm going to f#cking choke you out, bro." Mr. Valenzuela's shouts of pain prior to the choking and his throat being blocked while being choked are audible from the body cam footage. It is unclear how long he was held in this choke hold. After 5 minutes on the ground, officers check the victim's pulse, and call an ambulance after not finding one. EMT's attempted to resuscitate, but Mr. Valenzuela was pronounced dead on the scene.

Officer Smelser was released without bond due to an exemplary record and still is not in prison. It was announced today that he was fired from the LCPD (which has now banned the choke hold) and would be charged with involuntary manslaughter, carrying a maximum of 18 months in prison.

Officer Smelser used excessive force after the victim was already cuffed and on the ground, and choked him long enough to kill. The autopsy report stated that the cause of death was homicide. Please consider signing this petition to get justice for Antonio Valenzuela, his family, and the community of Las Cruces.

District Attorny Mark D'Antonio, we ask you to raise the charge to first degree murder, and that you charge the other officers who did not stop Officer Smelser with (at minimum) criminal negligence and accessory to murder.