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Arizona Officer Who Rammed Suspect With Car Was Justified, Police Chief Says

Dashcam video shows an officer speeding up as he runs over a man armed with a rifle in Marana, Arizona. The police chief, though, said the officer's actions may have prevented the suspect from shooting himself or others, an assertion the man's attorney rejects.

Last updated on April 15, 2015, at 8:15 p.m. ET

Posted on April 14, 2015, at 9:34 p.m. ET

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Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema defended Wednesday the actions of an officer who rammed an armed suspect with his patrol car, saying "deadly force" was warranted.

"The video is graphic, it's violent, but in the same token it warranted deadly force," Rozema told CNN. "We would have been justified in shooting this individual."

Officer Michael Rapiejko, who officials said was driving the patrol car, has been cleared after a review of the incident.

"At some point we have to take an action, and if we don't take an action, we don't know what the individual is going to do," Rozema said. "It put an end to this guy's crime spree."

Dashcam video released Tuesday shows the officer intentionally running over Mario Valencia, putting an end to a standoff.

After releasing the video, Marana police officials said the officer's actions likely prevented Valencia from shooting anyone, or himself, saving his life. Valencia's attorney, however, said the video shows excessive use of force.

The dashcam recordings show the end of what Marana police described as a crime spree on Feb. 19 that included a robbery at a 7-Eleven and a fire at a church.

In one of the dashcam videos, Valencia is seen walking along the street with what appears to be the end of a rifle pressed against the bottom of his chin as an officer follows behind him in his patrol vehicle.

A second patrol car then speeds up from the right, hitting Valencia and crashing through a short cinder-block wall.

"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," Rozema told the local Fox affiliate. "Without a doubt."

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Valencia's attorney, though, says the footage recorded a clear case of excessive force.

"Everything in the video seems to point towards an obvious excessive use of force. It is miraculous that my client isn't dead," the attorney, Michelle Cohen-Metzger, told CNN.

The video captures Valencia as he flies through the air after being hit by the patrol car.

Valencia was reportedly taken to a nearby hospital in serious condition. He was released two days later and booked into county jail.

Valencia currently faces 15 criminal charges in connection with the Feb. 19 incident.

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