Police in the town of Marana in Arizona were involved in a showdown with a suspect back in February, which led to one of the officers slamming his cruiser into the man. The incident was caught on dash cam, and emerging video has prompted discussions on how police handle tense situations.
Officer Michael Rapiejko, a former NYPD officer who nicknamed himself “Robocop,” was one of the several Marana officers who responded to calls of a man firing a weapon in the air on February 19. The police cornered 36-year-old suspect Mario Valencia, who was reportedly involved in a rash of crimes that day before the faceoff with police. CNN reports that police officials support Officer Rapiejko’s decision to ram Valencia although they acknowledge it was a tough call.
In one video, an officer who was tailing Valencia at slow speed reports over the radio that the suspect has fired one round in the air with a rifle he is accused of stealing that morning from a Walmart.
Another patrol car zooms past, runs into the man from behind then hits a short cinder block wall next to a driveway. Video from Officer Michael Rapiejko’s camera shows the officer running the man over and the windshield smashing as the car hits the wall.
“Oh Jesus Christ. Man down,” the officer in the first car says.
Police in Marana, which is about a half-hour from Tucson, have justified Rapiejko’s actions.
Tucson Police Chief Terry Rozema thinks that Rapiejko’s call was best and potentially saved lives. Chief Rozema told CNN that Valencia was heading towards a busy working district where he could have harmed others.
Valencia was taking to a nearby hospital listed in serious condition and was released into police custody two days later. He was charged with theft initially after robbing a 7-Eleven in his underwear, but also set fire to a church, broke into home then stole a car, and stole a rifle from Walmart along with ammunition.
Valencia has an attorney, who has voiced concerns over the tactics used to bring the man down. The airing of the clip has sparked some outrage from those who feel that the ramming of Valencia was an excessive use of force.
Watch the video below. A warning: the footage may be too intense for some viewers. See below photos of Officer Michael Rapiejko and suspect Mario Valencia, both photos courtesy of the Marana Police Department.