Dashcam video shows Arizona officer crash cruiser into suspect

Police in Arizona Slam Vehicle Into Suspect Carrying a Rifle
Police in Arizona Slam Vehicle Into Suspect Carrying a Rifle

(Reuters) - Dramatic video released by Arizona authorities on Tuesday showed a police officer crash his cruiser into a felony suspect as the man walked down a street toting a loaded rifle this year.

Dashboard camera footage from another officer's vehicle shows the man, identified by police as 36-year-old Mario Miranda Valencia, apparently firing the weapon into the air before a marked police vehicle speeds into him - launching him in the air - in the town of Marana.

Marana police officer Michael Rapiejko then crashes the vehicle into a brick wall, shattering its windshield. Footage from Rapiejko's vehicle shows him speed passed another cruiser that was trailing the suspect before running the man over.

Police said Valencia spent two days in the hospital after the February arrest and was booked into Pima County Jail on multiple felony charges.

Rapiejko was not injured, Marana police spokesman Sergeant Chris Warren said.

"It's definitely not standard procedure, but the officer feared that the suspect was going to do some damage," Warren said. "It very well could have been a mass casualty kind of thing."

Police said Valencia is suspected of an alleged crime spree on Feb. 19 that included an armed robbery of a convenience store, a church burglary and arson, and a home invasion and vehicle theft in Tucson.

Police said he then drove to a Wal-Mart in nearby Marana, where they said he stole a hunting rifle and ammunition and fled with store employees in pursuit.

Valencia was then spotted by police walking toward several businesses and refused orders to drop the weapon and surrender, Warren said, adding that the man pointed the rife at an officer at one point.

"Officers are taught if they are in a deadly situation to use whatever means and tools you have available," he said. "That's what happened."

Rapiejko, who also had worked for police departments in Tucson and New York City, was cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident by the county attorney, Warren said. An internal police investigation continues.

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