Dashcam Video Shows Arizona Cop Running Over Armed Robbery Suspect
An Arizona police officer’s dashcam captured him running over a robbery suspect as he walks down the street in the city of Marana, the Washington Post reports.
Mario Valencia was carrying a loaded rifle he stole from a local Walmart 30 minutes before he was hit by a Marana PD cruiser on the morning of February 9, police say. Officer Michael Rapiejko is shown on video accelerating his vehicle toward Valencia and slamming into him within seconds. The force of the collision causes Valencia’s body to fly out of the camera's range.
Prior to the collision, the video shows Valencia firing off a shot in the air when officers attempted to engage him.
After being hospitalized for two days, Valencia was charged with aggravated assault, armed robbery and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor, among other offenses. The officer who hit him has not been charged with a crime.
Interestingly, when the Marana Police Department released the video yesterday, it defended Officer Rapiejko’s actions, arguing that the collision saved Valencia’s life and that of civilians.
“This officer made a split-second decision, and in retrospect, when all the dust clears, I think we look at this and say, yeah, there’s things we can learn from this,” Police Chief Terry Rozema told CNN. “But the entire community is safe, all the officers are safe, and even the suspect in this case is safe.”
Rozema added, “If we’re going to choose between, hmm, maybe we’ll let him go a little farther and see what happens or we’re going to take him out now and eliminate any opportunity he has to hurt somebody, you’re going to err on the side of — in favor of the innocent people, without a doubt,” according to Reuters.
Valencia’s lawyer disagrees with Rozema’s logic.
“Everything in the video seems to point towards an obvious excessive use of force. It is miraculous that my client isn’t dead,” attorney Michelle Cohen-Metzger told CNN. She added that running over her client when his back was turned is equivalent to shooting him in the back.
Read the full Washington Post story for details about how the Marana Police Department is justifying Officer Rapiejko’s decision. You can also watch video of the incident below: