Intense dash cam footage released Tuesday shows an Arizona officer intentionally ram his vehicle into an armed crime spree suspect during a Feb. 19 incident.
Marana police chief Terry Rozema said the move by officer Michael Rapiejko likely saved 36-year-old suspect Mario Valencia's life, KOLD-TV reported.
The man's lawyer, however, disagrees.
"Everything in the video seems to point towards an obvious excessive use of force. It is miraculous that my client isn't dead," attorney Michelle Cohen-Metzger told CNN.
Police say Valencia fled authorities after stealing a rifle from a local Walmart at approximately 9 a.m. in the morning, KOLD reported. The 36-year-old, suspected of being involved in three other crimes, threatened officers who approached him with suicide. In one instance, he fired a round from the gun into the air.
The footage released Tuesday shows Rapiejko speed up and slam into Valencia. A second video released captured another officer's reaction.
"Oh, Jesus Chirst! Man down!" one officer can be heard saying on the radio following the incident.
[sharequote align="right"]"Man down!" [/sharequote]
According to KOLD, Valencia was taken to a local hospital in serious condition. After two days of treatment, he was released and booked into jail. According to CNN, he faces 15 charges, including aggravated assault and three counts of armed robbery and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor.
Rozema justified the officer's actions, contending the suspect was approaching a crowded area.
"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," he told CNN. "Without a doubt."
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