New Cop Killings Spark Outrage, Manslaughter Charge

Among them, a new 'I can't breathe' case in Tacoma
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2020 4:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Stories of police attacking and killing people are cropping up online, including one about a New Mexico cop who's been charged with killing a man pulled over in a traffic stop. CBS News reports that Officer Christopher Smelser is facing involuntary manslaughter after gripping the man, Antonio Valenzuela, in a neck hold until he died. Police say Valenzuela was pulled over Feb. 29 in Las Cruces, tried running away, was tased twice to no effect, and went for a knife in his pocket when Smelser put him in a neck restraint. Police said on Facebook they fired Smelser after seeing the autopsy report. Valenzuela, 40, had an open warrant for a parole violation at the time, per the Las Cruces Sun News. In other police stories:

  • Tacoma: The mayor of Tacoma, Washington, is calling for the firing and prosecution of four officers after a black man died while crying out "I can't breathe," KABC-TV reports. Manuel Ellis died March 3 due to respiratory arrest, lack of oxygen, and physical restraint, per a medical examiner's report. Police said Ellis had been seen hitting the window of a vehicle when police intervened. Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards said she was "enraged" by video Ellis being restrained on the ground.
  • Denver: Police are investigating an incident caught on video of police firing pepper balls at a black man who's shouting about a pregnant woman in his car, NBC News reports. What sparked the initial conflict is unclear. "Honestly, I thought I was going to die," the man, Shaiitarrio Brown, tells KUSA. "I thought I was going to be the next black man shot by police."
  • Los Angeles: An alliance of homeless advocates and criminal-justice activists have sued LA over police handling of the George Floyd protests, including shooting a homeless man with a rubber bullet, the LA Times reports. The lawsuit includes a horrific photo of the wheelchair-bound man with blood pouring from the bullet wound in his eye.
  • Las Vegas: Four officers who shot and killed a protester in a hail of 19 bullets were not wearing body cameras, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. But Assistant Sheriff Chris Jones said the officers aren't normally required to wear cameras. Jones said the victim, Jorge Gomez, was wearing body armor, carrying three guns, and raised what looked like a rifle at the officers.
  • Canada: Indigenous leaders are seeking answers and improved police training after an officer killed Chantel Moore, 26, in her British Columbia home during a wellness check, the Globe & Mail reports. Police say they killed her because she carried a knife and made threats.
(Read more police stories.)

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