Arizona police claim that a Tuscon officer who intentionally rammed into 36-year-old Mario Valencia actually saved the suspect’s life.
Valencia’s lawyer strongly disagrees.
In one video, an officer tailing Valencia at slow speed reports over the radio that the suspect fired a round of shots with a rifle he allegedly stole from a Walmart earlier in the morning. Another patrol car then runs into the man from behind. Video from Officer Michael Rapiejko’s camera shows the officer running the man over and the windshield smashing as the car hits the wall.
“Everything in the video seems to point towards an obvious excessive use of force. It is miraculous that my client isn’t dead,” said attorney Michelle Cohen-Metzger. “I find it ludicrous to say that we’re saving this man’s life who’s suicidal by almost killing him.”
Metzger insists that police should’ve tried to de-escalate the situation of a man “clearly suicidal, clearly in crisis.”
The police, however, defend their actions that day.
“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. “Without a doubt.”
The situation warranted force, police say, because Valencia was headed to an area where several hundred people were working.
Although the suspect was in serious condition when taken to the hospital, he was released into police custody two days later.