CBS News has another case where a suspect is alleging police misconduct. Is this just another in a flurry of police brutality cases or was the cop a hero who saved innocent lives by his action?
It was like a scene from an action movie. The suspect is walking down a street, holding a large gun and threatening to shoot himself and others. A lone cop sees his chance and disarms the man…by hitting the man with his patrol car! While in an action movie, that would just be a cutaway, in real life the cop may be faced with termination and a lawsuit.
On February 19, Mario Valencia had a stolen rifle and had already fired once near Tuscon, Arizona.
Seeing a brief opening, Officer Michael Rapiejko drove his cruiser on the sidewalk and rammed the suspect. The police chief later claimed it almost certainly saved Mario’s life.
According to the local police, Mario was fleeing from a Walmart where he had already stolen the rifle. The police caught up to him near a post office, where he then pointed the rifle at his head multiple times and threatened suicide before firing the gun in another direction and fleeing. It was not clear if he was intentionally shooting at the police or not.
The standoff came to an arupt end nearby when Rapiejko hit him with this cruiser. The police have since released the dashcam footage that shows the officer ramming into the man.
The local police srgt. told a newstation back in February.”This was a dangerous felon who’d been on a crime spree throughout the morning. He’d just stolen a weapon, loaded it, was not obeying commands from officers and was walking toward occupied businesses. It’s a busy time of morning, a lot of employees at work, a lot getting ready to come out for breaks, he’s walking toward those businesses. So we had to take immediate action and make sure he didn’t get inside those businesses.”
The suspect was taken to a nearby hospital for several days before he was booked into jail. Besides the armed robbery, assault and arson charge, the suspect is also connected to multiple crimes including a convenience store robbery, grand theft auto and a home invasion.
Mario’s criminal defense attorney made no statement other then to mention that his client was in crisis and the car ramming was not necessary. “I’ve also heard them say that they saved his life and I find that to be a very strange statement — to then use the deadly force to almost kill them by plowing them into with your vehicle,” he said.
He made mention of a possible civil lawsuit against the officer.
The local police say they treated this case in the same way as an officer-involved shooting.
Officer Rapiejko was unhurt and placed on paid administrative leave for the standard three days. While the state attorney’s office has already cleared him and he won’t be facing charges, he is still being investigated by his own agency while he is back to work.
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