Arizona Police say that Tuesday’s incident involving an officer running over an armed man actually saved the man’s life, but his lawyer strongly disagrees.
When the video surfaced, many people questioned what kind of force the police actually used in order to detain the suspect.
“Everything in the video seems to point towards an obvious excessive use of force. It is miraculous that my client isn’t dead,” said attorney Michelle Cohen-Metzger.
The altercation was captured on February 19 in the dash-cam of two police cars that were following the suspect, 36-year-old Mario Valencia. In the first, 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 allegedly stole that morning from a Walmart. A second car zooms past and runs into Valencia, culminating in a run-in with a 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. Police in Marana, which is about a half-hour from Tucson, have justified Rapiejko’s actions.
“Oh Jesus Christ. Man down,” the officer in the first car says.
“If we’re going to choose between maybe we’ll let him go a little bit 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,”says Police Chief Terry Rozema.