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State Police officer arrested in Los Lunas retires

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The New Mexico State Police officer arrested in Los Lunas on suspicion of choking a man trying to repossess his vehicle retired Tuesday evening, saying he was going to concentrate on his mental health.

Video footage released by the police department shows Vernier with the man in a choke hold as the victim’s wife records the incident.

Los Lunas police arrested Charles Vernier May 1 on aggravated battery and interference with police charges, which are both misdemeanors, Lt. Vince Torres said. The charges were filed in Los Lunas Municipal Court.

The incident happened at about 3 p.m. at the Casa de Chavez apartments in Los Lunas. Police arrived while Vernier was still choking the man and police arrested the officer. The responding officer pulled a Taser on Vernier before he let go of the man, according to the criminal complaint.

“I appreciate everything that the department has attempted to do on my behalf. I also appreciate the opportunity to serve the citizens of the State of New Mexico,” Vernier wrote in the letter. “However, given my current state, I believe that it is in the best interests of everyone that I resign from the department and concentrate on restoring my mental health to a functional state.”

The letter was addressed to New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas and other high-ranking officers. The letter was sent May 12 and took effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Kassetas said in a previous statement that an “internal inquiry” was launched after Vernier’s arrest.

Vernier was with New Mexico State Police for about two years, KOAT-TV reported.

Vernier is scheduled to be arraigned on the two charges on June 2, according to court records.

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