Cops claim an Arizona police officer acted of necessity when he slammed into an armed suspect with his car, sending the man flying into the air.

The incident was captured on several dash cams, thanks to a number of police vehicles that responded to the February 19 call for a man firing shots into the air with a shot gun.

According to CNN, that man—36-year-old Mario Valencia—had been involved in a string of crimes earlier that day.

At 6:45 a.m., Valencia robbed a 7-Eleven in Tucson with a metal object in his hand. Authorities said he was dressed only in his underwear.

He was charged with theft.

A little more than an hour later, police said, Valencia set a fire at a church for which he was charged with arson of an occupied structure.

Just after that he entered a home and stole a car, police said.

Authorities said he drove to a Walmart where he stole a .30-30 rifle and ammunition. He fled the store with Walmart employees in pursuit.

A Marana lieutenant tells CNN Valencia pointed the rifle at officers, refused several requests to drop the weapon, and threatened to kill himself before Officer Michael Rapiejko stepped on the gas and slammed into him from behind.

The impact sent Valencia flying into the air, landing him in the hospital in serious condition. He was released two days later and transferred to jail.

Detractors question why, for example, that many officers couldn't establish a perimeter or try to negotiate with with Valencia.

But Tucson police chief says he supports Rapiejko, characterizing the hit as the best option he had and suggesting that it might have saved Valencia's life.

"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," Police Chief Terry Rozema told CNN. "Without a doubt."


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