Cop from N.J. at center of viral firestorm as dashcam shows him running down … –

An Arizona cop who grew up in New Jersey drove his police cruiser into an armed man suspected of committing a series of crimes in the area, a dashcam video shows.

Marana Officer Michael Rapiejko, who is from the Skillman section of Montgomery and graduated from the Mercer County Police Academy in 2008, has since been cleared of wrongdoing.

His chief said the officer probably saved Mario Valencia’s life by ramming him.

Cruiser Hits SuspectIn this Feb. 19, 2015, frame from a dash cam video provided by the Marana Police Department, a police vehicle nears Mario Valencia in Marana, Ariz. Dramatic dash cam video released Tuesday shows a police officer using his cruiser to ram the armed suspect, Valencia, sending him flying in the air before the car smashes into a wall. Valencia survived the crash, and prosecutors cleared the officer, who is from New Jersey, of any wrongdoing. (Marana Police Department via AP) 

Valencia, the 36-year-old man who was hit, is seen walking along the side of a road after allegedly stealing a rifle from Walmart around 9 a.m. on Feb. 19, according to

The dashcam video went viral Tuesday after it was obtained by a media outlet in Arizona.

On it, Rapiejko can be seen accelerating his car and striking Valencia outside a storage facility. The windshield cracked as Valencia hit it and the cruiser smashed into a brick wall, the video shows.

Valenica spent two days in a hospital and has been charged with several felonies.

Before being hit, Valencia had been followed at a slow speed by another officer after he pointed the rifle at his head and threatened suicide. He also fired several shots in the air.

The alleged crime spree began in Tucson, where authorities say Valencia stole from a convenience store and broke into a church, where he started a fire. Officials say he next forced his way into an occupied home and then stole a car, which he drove to Marana, reported. The vehicle was abandoned at the Walmart where the rifle was taken.

Rapiejko formerly worked as police officer in New York City and Tucson. 

He is the second police officer from New Jersey this month to be at the center of a video to attract widespread attention. Lenape High School graduate Michael Slager was charged with murder after a witness’ video shows the now former North Charleston, S.C. cop shooting and killing an unarmed man running from him.

Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JGoldmanNJ. Find on Facebook.


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