Las Cruces police chief resigns amid protests | KOB 4
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Las Cruces police chief resigns amid protests

Christina Rodriguez
Updated: July 02, 2020 01:25 PM
Created: July 02, 2020 11:19 AM

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Las Cruces Police Chief Patrick Gallagher has resigned. 

Dan Trujillo, Las Cruces Police Department spokesman, confirms Gallagher submitted a letter of resignation Thursday morning. He will be leaving the job on August 1. The city is saying he is retiring. 

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"I would like to thank you for your service to the city for 2 1/2 years. I think you continued the great tradition of LCPD and I was very proud to work with you," Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima said. "You will be missed." 

This announcement comes after a Las Cruces officer was recently charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Video obtained by KOB 4 shows Christopher Smelser used a controversial neck restraint maneuver on Antonio Valenzuela in February. 

"I'm going to (expletive) choke you out," officer Smelser told Valenzuela.

Valenzuela can be heard gasping for air. He eventually died at the scene.

Following the incident, the lateral vascular neck restraint was banned by the police department. Smelser was also fired.

In a previous statement, the chief of the Las Cruces Police Department expressed his condolences to Valenzuela's family.

"Words are insufficient to bring comfort to Antonio Valenzuela's family, but I extend my sincere condolences for their loss," Gallagher said.

This is a developing story. Stay with KOB Eyewitness News 4 and KOB.com for updates.

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