There's still a lot we don't know about the car chase last week that ended with the death of a 26-year-old Farmington man. But that hasn't stopped the public from speculating on the circumstances of John Marszalek II's death.
Whether in comments on social media or gossip over lunch, it seems most people have made up their minds about what happened on March 12. If the web traffic on our stories about the shooting — both on our website and on social media — is any indicator, this is a story that many readers are following.
We're not police investigators, but, as journalists, we can assure you it's dangerous to jump to conclusions before knowing all of the facts. In this case, we likely won't know many of the details until weeks, or even months later. Let's try to hold off on jumping to conclusions, no matter how tempting it might be play the expert.
More than a week after the crash, police haven't released many details of the events surrounding Marszalek's death. We know that moments before Marszalek fled from police, officers reported he was driving erratically. He then led police on a 20-minute chase, winding through the city and into Flora Vista before turning back. The chase ended when Marszalek crashed his truck into a Farmington police patrol car at Butler Avenue and 20th Street. Police have said that, as Marszalek was ramming the patrol car and stabbing himself in the throat, a U.S. Marshals Service deputy shot him.
But we don't know if Marszalek died as a result of a gunshot wound or the self-inflicted stabbing. We may never know what was going through his mind as he fled from law enforcement officials. But police have confirmed Marszalek reported an unattended death over the weekend. We still don't know who that deceased person is. And, more importantly, we don't know the effect that person's death had on Marszalek.
What we do know is that what happened on March 12 will forever stay with the young man's family and the deputy who shot Marszalek. That's why police should investigate the shooting quickly and release all public documents in a timely manner.
We hope the new police chief, Steve Hebbe, will keep his promise of transparency and provide us the information under his control that we need to report the full story. And we urge the other law enforcement agencies involved to do the same.
So far, city and police officials have declined to release police dashboard camera footage of the chase that could also include a record of the shooting. They have also withheld documents about the unattended death Marszalek reported. Police need time to thoroughly review the evidence, but they should conduct their investigation as quickly as possible and release the video footage promptly.
Facts will put an end to most of the — in some cases destructive — pontification by some self-proclaimed experts armed mostly with details they read or misread in the paper. Facts will shed light on the chain of events that unfolded on March 12 and help the public understand a tragic incident that unsettled the community. But most of all, Marszalek's family deserves to know what happened in the last few moments of the young man's life.