It has not been a good month for police “infractions” caught on tape: whether it is a cop shooting an unarmed suspect just because, or a cop shooting an unarmed suspect because “a taser was confused with a gun”, the latest grotesque act caught on dashcam is the following video taken on February 19 showing a police cruiser slamming into an alleged crime suspect, Mario Valencia, holding a gun (however not aiming it at anyone and certainly not the police) at a speed of about 50 mph from behind, in what was clearly a move intended to kill the suspect.
Miraculously, the suspect survived. Ironically, the Police in Marana, Arizona, where the dashcam video was taken, claim that they saved the suspect’s life. His lawyer, understandably, strongly disagrees.
“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.
That said, the video of the incident has stirred debate about what type of force police should have used to detain a man with a gun.
As CNN recounts, in one video, an officer who was tailing 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 the officer running the man over and the windshield smashing as the car hits the wall.
“Oh Jesus Christ. Man down,” the officer in the first car says.
Police in Marana, which is about a half-hour from Tucson, have justified Rapiejko’s actions.
The police, as has now become the norm, will either shoot, or run suspects over, and ask questions later.
“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.”
At least according to the Police, the suspect was engaged in a series of extended crimes before his read end’s fateful encounter with the Arizona police cruiser.
Tucson Police Sgt. Pete Dugan told CNN that Valencia was involved in several incidents in Tucson the day he was struck. At 6:45 a.m., Valencia robbed a 7-Eleven in Tucson with a metal object in his hand. Authorities said he was dressed only in his underwear. He was charged with theft.
A little more than an hour later, police said, Valencia set a fire at a church for which he was charged with arson of an occupied structure.
Just after that he entered a home and stole a car, police said.
Authorities said he drove to a Walmart where he stole a .30-30 rifle and ammunition. He fled the store with Walmart employees in pursuit.
It is here that things get “liquid.” Valencia, police said, walked away from the officer, turned a corner and stopped. Valencia pointed the rifle at the officer then walked away again toward a Coca-Cola bottling plant and another business.
None of that is on the tape. What is visible is the next part of the police report: “Brunenkant also said by phone that before Rapiejko’s encounter with Valencia, the suspect had pointed the rifle at his head multiple times and threatened suicide before fleeing.”
In other words, the driver of the police cruiser decided to take matters into his own hands and potentially kill someone with clearly… suicidal tendencies?
Valencia’s attorney was livid: “My client’s back was turned and the officer drove right into him,” she said. “It isn’t that dissimilar to a police officer shooting a fleeing suspect in the back.”
However, as recent events have demonstrated, shooting a fleeing suspect in the back is an all too normal occurrence.
Appearing later on CNN, a former NYPD officer Harry Houck said: “What if that (suspect) walks into somebody, maybe taking a potential hostage, maybe just shooting somebody.” After a man fires a gun in the air, officers have to make a decision how to detain the man, Houck said. Do they surround him with their cars and get in a gun battle? That would risk the lives of officers and bystanders, he said.
“I’m 100% behind this officer,” Houck said.
Well, that’s what cops do: they stand behind each other; they only shoot and drive at 50 mph into non-police officers from behind.
Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent, told Cooper the suspect had to be stopped but not with a vehicle running into him.
And the understatement of the day: “I have to question this tactic a bit,” he said. “I think setting up a secure perimeter and at least making some attempt to negotiate may have been far more efficient.”
Then again what has become quite apparent in recent months, is that America’s increasingly militarized and weaponized police force, has also become Judge Dredd-ized, and is meant to not uphold the law and preserve the peace, but also to serve as judge, jury and exectuioner all at the same time. And hope that nobody is recording.