MARANA, AZ - The Marana, Arizona police officer involved in running down a shotgun-toting suspect in February has been cleared of any wrong doing. He has also been given a Medal of Valor.
The entire thing was caught on camera and that dash cam video went viral. According to police, Mario Valencia was caught on video earlier the same day loading a powerful rifle inside a Walmart, then stealing the gun.
By the time police found him firing off shots on the side of the road, he was refusing to obey their repeated commands to drop the weapon. That's when Officer Michael Rapiejko rammed the suspect with his police cruiser, causing him to smash into the front window, cracking the glass.
Was that the only way to stop the suspect? According to Police Chief Terry Rozema, it actually was, "This is Arizona. This is the kind of thing you can expect in the wild, wild West."
Chief Rozema, also, says using a handgun would have been way too dangerous. It could have led to a shoot-out and innocent bystanders could have been caught in the crossfire.
"I absolutely believe that what he did saved lives."
That includes Valencia's life. He did end up in the hospital, before the pokey. Officer Rapieko resigned from the police department, right after he received the Medal of valor. Now, apparently, he`s no longer aiming for bad guys. Instead, his sights are set on law school.