A police chase in Arizona resembled a real-life scene from the video game ‘Grand Theft Auto’ when a squad car mowed down the suspect earlier this year as he tried to elude cops on foot, newly released dashcam video shows.
Mario Valencia can be seen in the graphic video cartwheeling into the air after being struck by the police cruiser. The assailant reportedly had a gun to his neck and police believed he intended to commit suicide. The unusual action was taken February 19 to save his life, police claimed to local television station KOLD.
But Michelle Cohen-Metzger, Valencia’s lawyer, disagrees. In comments to CNN, she claimed police used excessive force in running down her client.
“I find it ludicrous to say that we’re saving this man’s life whose suicidal by almost killing him,” the attorney told the cable network.
Some may find the images and video disturbing.
Cops were tailing Valencia because he was wanted in connection with a string of thefts — including a robbery of a Baptist Church — in Tuscon and Marana, where the footage was captured, according to local television station KOLD.
The suspected thief was brandishing a shotgun which he pointed multiple times at his head.
“You don’t want to do this,” a Marana police officer can be heard telling Valencia before advising other officers to back off because the firearm is loaded.
Valencia reportedly fired the gun at least once before officer Michael Rapiejko, who previously served in the New York Police Department, sprung into action.
Rapiejko’s cruiser careened around the squad car leading the pursuit, sped up and struck Valencia, who had left a stolen car at a nearby Walmart just minutes before, officers told KOLD.
Valencia’s body flew through the air as the police car’s windshield was smashed while it rolled through debris, video from the car that struck him showed.
The wanted man was taken to a local hospital in serious condition before being released into the custody of police to face charges stemming from multiple robberies including that of a home and a convenience store.
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