The Arizona police officer who ran over a fleeing suspect in February will not face aggravated assault charges, ABC News reports.
Footage from the Feb. 19 incident was brought to light this week, showing officer Michael Rapiejko running over Mario Valencia, a man wanted for a number of robberies and burglaries. While officials previously said Valencia wanted to harm himself, they now claim the suspect was heading to a movie theater and a few other public establishments when he walked down the street with a stolen gun.
“Given all of the circumstances of this case, there is insufficient evidence to prove that Officer Repiejko had the requisite criminal intent for aggravated assault,” reads the letter from Pima County attorney Barbara LaWall to the police chief, dated March 31.
Valencia spent two days in the hospital before he was taken to jail on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful discharge of a firearm, and two counts of armed robbery. His lawyers have maintained that Rapiejko didn’t have to use his squad car to run the 36-year-old over.
Officials continued to defend the former NYPD officer in their letter, claiming it was the only way at the time to stop Valencia from harming anyone else.
“As Officer Rapiejko arrived in the area, he could see Mr. Valencia was headed toward some businesses,” the letter reads. “There were also other officers in the area. Officer Rapiejko was approximately fifty yards away. Officer Rapiejko determined that Mr Valencia would be able to fire the gun quickly at businesses and therefore decided he needed to stop Mr. Valencia from proceeding any further.”
Shortly after the video went viral, Walmart surveillance cameras revealed the moment Valencia stole the gun he was later seen walking down the street with. Police Chief Terry Rozema agreed with the decision not to charge Rapiejko with a crime. He also told reporters he and the rest of the force will always be in favor of protecting innocent people as opposed to someone who could have harmed others.
SOURCE: ABC News | VIDEO CREDIT: NDN