CRIME

Arizona police officer who rammed cruiser into armed suspect explains his actions

  • This undated photo provided by the Marana, Ariz., Police Department shows Marana police officer Michael Rapiejko. Dramatic dash cam videos of an arrest in Arizona put the public in the driver's seat as Rapiejko plowed his cruiser into a rifle-toting robbery suspect at high speed. Policing experts on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, called Rapiejko's tactics unconventional and even outrageous, but justified, given the circumstances. Prosecutors cleared Rapiejko of any wrongdoing after he swerved around another officer who had been cautiously tailing the robbery suspect, then accelerated and rammed into the man's back on Feb. 19. (Marana Police Department via AP)

    This undated photo provided by the Marana, Ariz., Police Department shows Marana police officer Michael Rapiejko. Dramatic dash cam videos of an arrest in Arizona put the public in the driver's seat as Rapiejko plowed his cruiser into a rifle-toting robbery suspect at high speed. Policing experts on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, called Rapiejko's tactics unconventional and even outrageous, but justified, given the circumstances. Prosecutors cleared Rapiejko of any wrongdoing after he swerved around another officer who had been cautiously tailing the robbery suspect, then accelerated and rammed into the man's back on Feb. 19. (Marana Police Department via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • This undated photo provided by the Marana Police Department shows Mario Valencia. Dramatic dash cam video released Tuesday, April 14 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 of any wrongdoing. (Marana Police Department, KGUN9 via AP)

    This undated photo provided by the Marana Police Department shows Mario Valencia. Dramatic dash cam video released Tuesday, April 14 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 of any wrongdoing. (Marana Police Department, KGUN9 via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The Arizona police officer who stopped an armed suspect by running him over told investigators he felt it was his only option.

The dramatic encounter in the Tucson suburb of Marana in February gained worldwide attention this week after dash-cam video showing the officer ramming into the suspect was released.

Prosecutors have cleared Officer Michael Rapiejko of wrongdoing. In a recorded interview released to The Associated Press on Friday, Rapiejko is heard explaining his thought process and why he chose to run over 36-year-old Mario Valencia instead of shooting him.

Rapiejko said he was too far to shoot his handgun accurately and that shooting it would have posed a risk to other officers and bystanders.

Rapiejko is back on the force, and the Marana Police Department has stood by him.