US police have released dramatic footage of the moment an officer drove his police car into an armed suspect who was apparently fleeing a crime scene on foot.
In the video, recorded Feb. 19, an apparent gunshot is heard as suspect Mario Valencia is seen walking down a street in Marana, a town northwest of Tucson.
Then, in a decision that Marana police Chief Terry Rozema says probably saved Valencia’s life, Officer Michael Rapiejko drives his cruiser onto the sidewalk and rams Valencia.
According to Marana police, Valencia was fleeing from a Walmart where he had allegedly stolen a rifle. He had already been intercepted by police near a post office, where he pointed the rifle at his head multiple times and threatened suicide before firing the gun in another direction and fleeing.
Police do not know if he was shooting at officers, and no one was hit by the bullet.
The pursuit came to an end outside a self storage facility nearby, where Rapiejko hit the suspect with his cruiser.
“This was a dangerous felon who’d been on a crime spree throughout the morning,” Marana Police Sgt. Chris Warren told KOLD-TV in February. “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.”
Valencia was taken to University of Arizona Medical Center in serious condition. He stayed there two days before being booked into jail.
Police were investigating whether Valencia was connected to the three earlier incidents in Tucson, including a convenience store robbery, a break-in and fire at a church and a home invasion and car theft.
Officer Rapiejko previously served with the Tucson and New York police departments before joining the Marana police.