“Everything in the video seems to point towards an obvious excessive use of force. It is miraculous that my client isn’t dead,” complains attorney Michelle Cohen-Metzger.
What she failed to mention was that her client had just stolen a firearm, fired shots into the air, and threatened to kill himself.
“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,” Police Chief Terry Rozema said in a press briefing. “Without a doubt.”
Multiple officers in Marana, Arizona responded to reports of a man stealing a rifle from Wal-Mart.
Before the video begins, 36-year-old Mario Miranda Valencia threatened to shoot himself in the head after he was approached by the first officers on the scene. After refusing to follow the officers’ commands, the suspect fled. Valencia was later seen firing the weapon in the air before walking down the road toward a local business with the loaded rifle pressed below his chin.
In an attempt to save Valencia’s life, Officer Michael Rapiejko drove over the sidewalk and knocked him off his feet.
The shocking footage was captured by the dashcam of multiple officers.
Police Chief Terry Rozema told KOLD that his officer’s actions saved the man’s life. “This officer made a split-second decision, and in retrospect, when all the dust clears, I think we look at this and say, yeah, there’s things we can learn from this,” said Rozema. “but the entire community is safe, all the officers are safe, and even the suspect in this case is safe.”
Valencia spent two days in the hospital before he was arrested and charged with shoplifting a firearm, discharging a firearm inside city limits, and aggravated assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon.
Some people criticized Officer Rapiejko’s course of action, but Sgt. Chris Warren defended his fellow officer saying “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.”