A judge in New Mexico on Thursday dismissed a second-degree murder charge against a former Las Cruces police officer who was accused of killing a man by using a “chokehold.”

The charge against Christopher Smelser, 29, was dropped by Judge Douglas Driggers via a directed verdict after half an hour of arguments. Smelser had been accused of killing Antonio Valenzuela, 40, on Feb. 29, 2020, by using a vascular neck restraint, Cox News reports.

Driggers ruled that the prosecution failed to provide enough evidence to move forward in a trial, KOB-TV reported.

Smelser was fired by the police department later in 2020 and a grand jury indicted him on one count of second-degree murder, the Sun News reported. Valenzuela’s family received $6.5 million in a settlement with the City of Las Cruces, in 2020, according to the newspaper.

 

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