Justice For Who?

The family of Antonio R. "Tony" Valenzuela is grieving his death and appropriately so. Families are supposed to grieve the loss of a loved one. Tony died after violently resisting arrest on February 29th and being placed in a vascular neck restraint by officer Chris Smelser, a technique taught and approved by the LCPD. The Valenzuela family recently held a vigil to mark the six-month anniversary of Tony's death, an event covered by the Las Cruces Sun-News, and made statements regarding their pain over the insensitivity of remarks posted on social media regarding their loved one. They are upset that people who never knew Tony would make negative statements regarding his character.


I don't have a Twitter account and have not read the remarks, but here is my response to the Valenzuela family:


The officers who arrested your Tony were doing their jobs in attempting to affect an arrest. None had intent to take Tony's life, only to get him under control. When Tony ran and then violently resisted arrest after officers caught up to him, they were left with no choice but to escalate their use of force as your beloved escalated his resistance. Despite being warned multiple times about what would happen if he kept fighting the officers, he continued to resist. He had a baggie of meth in his pocket and a multi-tool that the officers thought was a knife, and he had ingested meth and fentanyl prior to the confrontation. The death certificate states that the meth in Tony's system was a contributing factor in his loss of life. That means Tony's personal choices and lifestyle had just as much to do with his passing as anything else.


Nobody is supposed to die when being arrested by the police, but let me make one thing perfectly clear: none of this would have occurred if Tony Valenzuela did not resist arrest. Had he submitted peacefully, he would have been taken into custody, booked, and spent the night in jail. But Tony ran from the police because he knew he had a warrant for his arrest, and let me be brutally frank about running from the cops: Real men stand and face the consequences for their actions, they do not run.


You talk about "Justice For Tony" with your T-shirts, face masks, lighted signs and other expositions, without once giving thought to the violence perpetrated by your own flesh and blood against officers of the law. You hire an attorney to represent you in a civil lawsuit against LCPD, who in the past has represented a police officer accused of 2nd degree murder in a very questionable shooting of a homeless man, yet you decry police brutality. You speak of the unfairness of people remarking on Tony's character, yet you have no apparent issues in badmouthing Chris Smelser and demanding that he be found guilty and locked up for actions he was forced to take as a direct result of Tony's violence.


To my knowledge, no journalists has gone to the trouble of researching Valenzuela's criminal history. If they have researched it they certainly will not publish it. It's public record, but liberal media folks don't like hamstringing a narrative that slams law enforcement with anything as inconvenient as facts. Smearing a good cop's name is okay, but making the citizenry aware of the type of individual the officers were dealing with at the time of arrest doesn't fit the local and national hyperbole that cops kill "innocent citizens" with impunity. I doubt that the city council or mayor took Valenzuela's criminal history under consideration, either, before they gave away $6.5 million of taxpayers money.


I went to the trouble to research what journalists and politicians would not, and here are Tony's Valenzuela's contributions to society:


Battery against a household member, possession of controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest, concealing identity, probation violation, multiple DWI offenses, and too many traffic offenses to count. Remember, these are just the offenses in which he was caught by the police and that I could find on record. And this man you have portrayed as a wonderful father was in and out of trouble with Child Support Enforcement for failure to pay. In other words, he conveniently had money for dope but not to support a child he fathered.


I dealt with the Antonio Valenzuela's of the world on a virtual daily basis for 22 years.They are not good people. If the Valenzuela family wants to paint a pretty picture of Tony and tell us what a great and wonderful human being he was, that is perfectly understandable. But when they do that, and in the course of that accounting attack the good name and credibility of an honorable man, they open themselves up for rebuttal. That former LCPD officer has family, too, not to mention the many supporters of law enforcement who recognize that the criminal charges filed against Chris Smelser were the result of the current negative political atmosphere which has engulfed this country, and the sllimeball politicians promoting it.


"Justice For Tony?"


Justice For Chris Smelser.



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J.R. LONSWAY

AUTHOR | RETIRED DEPUTY CHIEF OF POLICE

J.R. Lonsway served 22 years with the Las Cruces, New Mexico, police department and retired as a Deputy Chief of Police. After retirement he served with the U.S. Department of State as a police advisor in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Liberia, Haiti, Lebanon, and South Sudan. He is a former U.S. Marine.

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