An Arizona police department released video Tuesday showing a police officer using a car to ram an armed suspect in February.
The video shows a Marana Police Department cruiser slamming into Mario Valencia, who was allegedly armed with a stolen gun and fired a shot in the air on Feb. 19.
The dashcam records a gunshot as the suspect is walking on West Coca Cola Place, and an officer warning, “stand off, stand off, the gun is loaded.”
A different police car driven by Officer Michael Rapiejko then roars forward and strikes Valencia sending the man flying into the air.
“Oh! … man down,” the apparently surprised officer in the first car says in the video.
Valencia survived the collision and faces a long list of charges.
Police said Valencia, 36, held up a 7-Eleven convenience store in Tucson, started a fire at a church, and then broke into a home and stole a car and drove to a Walmart in Marana, a town northwest of Tucson.
Valencia allegedly asked a store worker if he could see a rifle and then used it as a club to bash a case and threaten the employee, and ran off with the rifle and a box of .30-30 ammunition, police said. He loaded the weapon and pointed it at an officer before firing instead into the air, and was struck by the police car as he approached a business, police said in a statement Tuesday.
Police said in a statement the officer “[used] his marked police car to stop the dangerous situation Mario Valencia created.” Police said that before the incident Valencia had pointed the rifle at his neck.
Valencia’s attorney, Michelle Metzger, called the unconventional tactic “shocking,” and “clearly excessive police force.” She said it was obvious Valencia was suicidal, and that the officer heard in the video appears to tell other officers to back off before the car suddenly slammed into her client.
Lt. Tim Brunenkant said Rapiejko was cleared by the prosecutor’s office. He was placed on paid leave for three days but has returned to duty. An administrative review is currently ongoing, Brunenkant said.
Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema told NBC station KVOA that Valencia was hospitalized for two days after he was hit by the police car, and the situation could have ended in the death of Valencia or someone else.
“The guy probably is still alive because the officer took the action that he took,” Rozema told the station. “Had he continued to press down the street … these officers have no choice but to begin firing.”
Valencia is jailed on 11 counts that include armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, arson, burglary, shoplifting and theft. He is being held at the Pima County Jail.