Shocking dashboard camera videos released by authorities in Arizona show a patrol car crashing into an alleged armed suspect who police said had been on a day-long crime spree.
Mario Valencia's February 19 alleged spree included robbing a 7-11, breaking into a church and committing arson, invading a home and stealing a car, the Marana Police Department said. He then allegedly stole a rifle and ammunition from Walmart and fired the gun not far from the store, according to police.
In the dashcam video, a gunshot is heard as Valencia is seen walking down the street in Marana, about 30 miles north of Tucson.
An officer is heard saying, "One round just went out into the sky. It's definitely unlocked now, it's definitely loaded."
"Stand off, the gun is loaded," an officer warns.
An officer then drives off the road and into Valencia, in a shocking collision captured on two cruisers' cameras.
Valencia was hospitalized for two days after the incident, according to police. Valencia was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of armed robbery and unlawful discharge of a firearm.
According to Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema, while Valencia didn't shoot anyone, he did aim the rifle at an officer. Rozema said an officer told him Valencia was walking toward a business, and while the officer was too far away to shoot, he decided to get on top of him as fast as possible to separate Valencia from the weapon.
Michael Rapiejko, the officer involved, was cleared by county attorneys and returned to work after a few days, Rozema said.
Valencia's public defender, Michelle Cohen Metzger, released a statement calling the situation an "obvious excessive use of force."
"It’s a miracle that he’s not dead," she said in the statement. "I’m hoping that the State takes into account my client’s mental state at the time, as he intended to hurt no one."