FARMINGTON — Though he was buried last week, John Marszalek II's family still hasn't received a death certificate, learned the cause of death or received any new information about the circumstances that led a U.S. Marshal to shoot the young man on March 12.

Marszalek, 26, was pronounced dead at San Juan Regional Medical Center shortly after he was shot at Butler Avenue and 20th Street. Police said he was stabbing himself in the neck and ramming a police car with his truck when a U.S. Marshals Service deputy shot him. Police have not said if the cause of death was the gunshot or the self-inflicted stabbing.

Law enforcement officers on March 12 cordon off Butler Avenue and 20th Street in Farmington shortly after a chase ended at the intersection.
Law enforcement officers on March 12 cordon off Butler Avenue and 20th Street in Farmington shortly after a chase ended at the intersection. (Jon Austria /The Daily Times)

The late man's father, also named John Marszalek, said his son's body was released to the family last week, and his funeral was last Thursday in Taylor, Mich. The late Marszalek grew up in the Detroit suburbs and moved to Farmington four years ago, where he worked as a supervisor of a Farmington Pizza Hut.

The elder Marszalek said funeral home staff informed him that his son's death certificate wasn't available. He has requested copies of the certificate but said he hasn't seen any documents that explain his son's death.

About 200 people attended the funeral, he said.

"He was trustworthy. He was loyal. ... There was a lot of reminiscing of my son's life," the father said. "He had a lot of life left to live, and it was cut short."

Farmington police said they haven't finished investigating the deputy who shot Marszalek, which is why many details about the case have not been released.

Police and City of Farmington officials have denied requests to release footage or police reports connected to Marszalek's death, citing the ongoing investigation.

Farmington police Sgt. Casey Malone said police will present their investigation to the San Juan County District Attorney's Office after it is completed and prosecutors will determine if the shooting was justified.

Police have also not released the name of the deputy who they say shot Marszalek.

Malone said police didn't interview the deputy until late last week. He said police are continuing to work with the U.S. Marshals Service, and, because police are respecting the federal agency's procedures, the release of the man's name has been delayed.

If a Farmington police officer had been involved in a shooting two weeks ago, the officer's identity would almost certainly have been released by this time, Malone said.

"This is different because (the U.S. Marshals Service) have their own policies. ... We're trying to" release the name, he said.

San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen said he doesn't have first-hand knowledge of the final moments before the shooting, but he said the use of lethal force on March 12 may be justified because of Marszalek's dangerous driving.

Several people called 911 to report Marszalek was driving wildly before police started chasing him, Christesen said. Marszalek fled from police at high speeds through east Farmington on Main Street. At one point, he crashed into a car driven by a law enforcement officer in street clothes, according to a Farmington police news release.

Marszalek then drove northeast toward Flora Vista before coming back into the city and continuing to speed, at times not far from school zones, police said. The chase ended when he rammed a Farmington patrol car and was shot.

"It wasn't outside the realm (of using lethal force) because of the high risk of injury or death he put our community through," Christesen said in reference to the high-speed chase, which Farmington police, the sheriff's office and a fugitive apprehension task force participated in.

The elder Marszalek said his son was talking on the phone with his mother when he died. He said his ex-wife heard police tell the couple's son to get out of the truck before the shooting.

Carlene Deal-Smith, a witness who says she saw the shooting from a car parked at Walgreens, said at the scene and the day after that she saw an officer in street clothes reach into the rear driver's side door of the truck and shoot the driver.

Farmington police Detective Sgt. Brandon Lane said late last week that police still had to interview more witnesses and review footage of the incident. In addition to police in-car dashboard cameras, police have obtained security footage from Smith's and the Giant gas station that surround the intersection, Lane said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service for the District of New Mexico has said the deputy who shot Marszalek was a member of a Southwest Fugitive Investigation Team in San Juan County. The team is comprised of U.S. Marshals, Farmington police and San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputies, and its members seek to arrest fugitives on federal and state charges.

Police have not released any information about what may have prompted Marszalek's actions. Farmington police Lt. Taft Tracy has said Marszalek called 911 to report an unattended death days before the incident. He said the death wasn't suspicious.

City officials said that death is still under investigation, and they declined to release any police reports connected to it.

"Marszalek obviously had some issues because of the numerous 911 calls about his erratic driving that were made before police were involved," Christesen said. "A driver at those speeds puts the whole community at risk."

Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.