An Arizona police chief on Wednesday supported an officer's decision to drive his car into an armed suspect, saying that although the move could have killed the suspect, deadly force was justified. Video of the incident, recorded February 19 by the dashboard cameras of two Marana police cars, shows one of the cars running into a suspect with who had a rifle in the city about a half hour from Tucson. The suspect, 36-year-old Mario Valencia, survived and was hospitalized before being criminally charged. Marana police Chief Terry Rozema was asked Wednesday on CNN's "New Day" whether police were fortunate that Valencia didn't die. "That very well may be ... that it's luck that he is still alive. The fact of the matter remains, though, deadly force was authorized," Rozema said. "So if he ends up dying in that situation, (then) he ends up dying, and that's unfortunate, (but) that's not the desire of everybody," the chief added. The footage has stirred debate about what type of force police should have used.
In one of the dashcam videos, an officer who was tailing a walking Valencia at slow speed reports over the radio that the suspect has fired one round in the air with a rifle he is accused of stealing that morning from a Walmart. Another patrol car zooms past, runs into the man from behind, then hits a short cinder block wall next to a driveway. Video from Officer Michael Rapiejko's camera shows Rapiejko's vehicle running into Valencia, with the windshield smashing as the car hits the wall. Police in Marana justified Rapiejko's actions.
"We don't know that if (Rapiejko) lets him go for another 10 seconds, (Valencia) doesn't take somebody out in the parking lot," Rozema said. "And then we're answering some completely different questions: 'Why didn't you act sooner? ... This guy had a gun ... Why didn't you stop this guy before he shot my wife, before he shot my husband, before he shot my child?' " The video has stirred debate about what type of force police...
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