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Arizona Officer Explains Why He Rammed Rifle-Toting Suspect with Patrol Car

April 20, 2015  | 

Officer Michael Rapiejko (Photo: Marana PD)
Officer Michael Rapiejko (Photo: Marana PD)

An Arizona police officer who is being hailed as a hero for ramming his police cruiser into a rifle-toting suspect had no choice but to use his car as a weapon to end the armed man's crime spree, he said.

"I wanted to stop the threat. That was the only thing on my mind," police officer Michael Rapiejko calmly told a prosecutor in an interview obtained Friday by the Associated Press.

Rapiejko, a former NYPD officer who calls himself Robocop because of his intense workout regimen, plowed his patrol car into suspect Mario Valencia, who was on a rampage and headed toward locked-down businesses, the New York Daily News reports.

Dashcam still shows suspect at moment of impact. (Photo: Marana PD)
Dashcam still shows suspect at moment of impact. (Photo: Marana PD)

Video of the incident was released last week.

"I have two thoughts going through my mind," Rapiejko said. "I need to shoot him to stop the threat, or I need to run him over to stop the threat."

The 34-year-old officer from the Marana Police Department ruled out shooting the suspect because he was too far away and didn't want to put other officers and bystanders at risk.

Valencia's crime-spree allegedly started after he robbed a 7-Eleven in his underwear, and then stole a rifle and box of ammunition from a Tucson Walmart.

He then broke into a church, setting it on fire, invaded a home and boosted a car before storming the busy Tucson business corridor, police said.

Rapiejko's patrol car after the incident. Rapiejko was not injured. The suspect was hospitalized for two days then booked into jail on multiple felonies. (Photo: Marana PD) 
Rapiejko's patrol car after the incident. Rapiejko was not injured. The suspect was hospitalized for two days then booked into jail on multiple felonies. (Photo: Marana PD) 

Valencia spent two days in the hospital before being booked into jail on multiple felony charges.

The Pima County Attorney's Office has determined that Rapiejko's actions were justified.

Related:

Video: Arizona Police Car Rams Suspect, Ending Day-Long Crime Spree


Comments (11)

Displaying 1 - 11 of 11

Leonard Mather @ 4/20/2015 4:56 PM

Here we have a combination of intelligence, creativity, and diligent application of the motto "To Protect and to Serve." We need more LEOs taking Rpiejko's example! This is what happens when Cojones and Intelligence work together.

JJ @ 4/20/2015 5:29 PM

Has anyone asked this officer why he decided to run past three other units that seemed to be closer and prepared to handle the situation without his wrecking a patrol car and possibly endangering his fellow officers?

Richard Jellicoe @ 4/20/2015 6:15 PM

Yeah I thought the same thing. Flying past other units to run this guy down seems to have been the more dangerous option, more so if he did not advise the other officers of his intentions over the radio. Police officers generally don't like to be passed on the right by another office at high speed. And if I was going to run him down I would have waited until the brick wall was out of the way. But I was not there, and I have no idea what was really going through the officers mind. Calling himself ROBOCOP he seems to put himself above other officers. Maybe a psychology evaluation is in order.

D Elliott @ 4/21/2015 3:11 AM

But, the other officers were not doing anything. Obviously they were hesitating in their own decision making, which is their call. He saw opportunity and took it. Remember the standard of the 4th amendment is Reasonableness. The Graham vs. Connor decision requires that use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene. As for the officer's use of the vehicle, consider that the range of a .40 cal. bullet is over 500 yards and a 5.56 bullet has a range of over 1000 yards. Bullets don't have brakes.

JP @ 4/21/2015 3:59 AM

Yes. See above.

R Parker @ 4/21/2015 9:40 AM

Just because the action was unorthodox doesn't mean it was unjustifiable. Deadly force was met with deadly force. Fortunately there were no injuries to bystanders or officers. The suspect lived and will stand trial. The only cost were some cinder blocks and repairs to a cruiser. Fine job on the part of the officer. By the way, the officers were already in danger prior to this officer showing up. Way too close to the rifle toting suspect. That rifle would have eaten right through a cruiser. The ends justified the means hands down.

A Deputy @ 4/21/2015 10:59 AM

He did a great job because............no officers or citizens were hurt and the bad guy went to jail! Arm chair quarterbacks will always say I would do this or I would do that, but they weren't there! Great job!

Ed Degelsmith @ 4/21/2015 11:22 AM

Too many Monday morning quarterbacks. We should be buying the guy a beer. He had the balls to take action. The guys that were sitting in their patrol cars and the rest of the community were in danger of being hurt.

Tom Ret @ 4/21/2015 11:51 AM

I agree with Parker's analysis.

Jon Retired LEO @ 4/21/2015 2:47 PM

I know there will be some degree of disagreement on this by readers. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I think the officer did what had to be done, he stopped the threat and the threat lived. End of story.

Ralph @ 5/12/2015 2:18 AM

This guy is a reckless cowboy who is not only a danger to the public, but to himself as well.

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