Arizona police officer Michael Rapiejko used his cruiser to smash into armed suspect Mario Valencia who was walking down the sidewalk – and the entire incident was caught on the officer’s dashcam. The viral video has many American calling the Marana police officer a hero, and others deeming the intentional hit an act of police brutality.
The video of the Arizona police officer shows the Marana cruiser driving down the road, mounting the sidewalk, and then crashing into the man suspected of going on a crime spree earlier the same day. Mario Valencia was reportedly waving a rifle in the air and firing away just moments before officer Rapiejko ran into him.
“One round just went out. He’s definitely loaded,” a Marana police officer is heard saying on the radio traffic. “Stand off, the gun is loaded,” the unidentified officer then says. Next officer Michael Rapiejko takes steps to stop the armed suspect and drives toward the man, mounting the sidewalk curb in the process.
Valencia went flying into the air, as the police cruiser crashed through a concrete wall and then came to a stop. On the dashcam footage, another Marana officer can be heard shouting in shock: “Oh! Man down.” Officer Rapiejko and several other Arizona police officers are then shown exiting their cruisers with their weapons drawn.
Marana Police Department Sergeant Chris Warren stated during an interview with local KOLD-TV that Valencia “was a dangerous felon who’d been on a crime spree throughout the morning.” The armed was allegedly vandalized and burglarized the Tucson Baptist Temple, stole a car, robbed a convenience store, conducted a home invasion, and then stole a rifle from Walmart.
“He’d just stolen a weapon, loaded it, was not obeying commands from officers and walking toward occupied businesses. It’s a busy time of morning, a lot of employees at work,” the Arizona police sergeant added.
Officer Michael Rapiejko was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Pima County Prosecuting Attorney’s office. The Arizona police officer was initially placed on paid leave pending an investigation because ramming the armed suspect with a police cruiser is considered use of force.
“We had to take immediate action to make sure he [Mario Valencia] did not get inside those businesses,” Rapiejko said. Arizona police had attempted to approach Valenica after he stole the rifle from Walmart while he was near a post office entrance. He reportedly fired the gun and fled on foot.
Mario Valencia was placed in custody as he was given emergency medical treatment and then transported to a local hospital after being hit by the police cruiser. Valencia was released from the medical care facility two days later. The Marana police chief has stood by officer Michael Rapiejko’s actions and said the steps he chose to take with his cruise, “saved Valencia’s life.”
What do you think about the Marana, Arizona police officer using his cruiser to take down armed suspect Mario Valencia?
[Images via: Marana Police Department]