FARMINGTON — The 26-year-old man who died after a car crash Wednesday was talking on the phone with his mother when police shot him, the man's father said on Thursday.
John Marszalek II led police on a 20-minute car chase that ended when he crashed into a Farmington police car at 20th Street and Butler Avenue.
After the crash, a U.S. Marshals Service deputy fired one shot that hit Marszalek, Farmington police said Thursday. The deputy shot Marszalek while he was ramming into a Farmington police car and stabbing himself in the throat, according to a Farmington police news release. It's not known if Marszalek died as a result of a gunshot or the self-inflicted stabbing.
Police declined to name the deputy who fired the shot.
The deputy was a member of the Southwest Investigative Fugitive Team, or SWIFT, said Ben Segotta, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service for the District of New Mexico. SWIFT, which is comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement officers, aims to arrest federal and state fugitives.
Segotta didn't say why SWIFT was involved in Wednesday's incident.
He said the Marshals Service will cooperate with Farmington police's investigation, and the federal agency will also internally review the incident.
Segotta declined to comment on the agency's policies and procedures for when one of its deputies is involved in a shooting.
Farmington police investigators attended Marszalek's autopsy on Thursday. The autopsy's findings may shed light on the cause of Marszalek's death, said Farmington police Lt. Taft Tracy.
A Marshals Service deputy and a Farmington police officer tried to shoot Marszalek with a Taser before a deputy shot him with a gun, according to a Farmington police news release.
Marszalek's father said Thursday his son called his mother during the car chase, and they were on the phone when Marszalek was shot.
"He was under distress. (Police) were asking him to come out of the vehicle, and he didn't want to come out of the vehicle," said John Marszalek, the father of the deceased, in a phone interview Thursday from his home in Michigan. "Then she heard two gun shots."
Carlene Deal-Smith, who said she saw the shooting from the nearby Walgreen's parking lot, said she saw three officers, all in street clothes, try to get a man out of the truck he was driving, she said. One of the officers reached through the rear driver's side window of the truck and shot the man twice, she said.
The late Marszalek moved to Farmington four years and worked at Pizza Hut, his father said. He was originally from the suburbs of Detroit and moved to Farmington along with his mother, who has since returned to Michigan.
The elder Marszalek said his son recently made plans to move back to Michigan to be closer to family.
Tracy said he did not know why Marszalek tried to flee from police. Marszalek reported a death to Farmington police over the weekend, Tracy said. Police aren't sure of his relationship with the deceased, he said.
On Wednesday, Marszalek was originally spotted driving recklessly — officers initially suspected drunken driving — near the 3500 block of East Main Street, police said.
He fled out of city limits and then drove back before he crashed into a patrol car while driving west on 20th Street through its intersection with Butler Avenue.
At one point during the chase, Marszalek allegedly struck an unmarked police car on East Main Street, Tracy said. It wasn't clear Thursday if the deputy who shot Marszalek was the driver of that unmarked police car.
Marszalek's father said news of the fatal shooting shocked his family.
"He was always cooperative. I can't explain why he was telling his mother he didn't want to get out of the vehicle when police were telling him to," he said. "He was scared and frightened. That would be the only reason I could see."
The elder Marszalek said the family doesn't have all the facts of the incident, but they want answers about why the shooting was necessary.
"If I could talk to the officer, I would like to ask him if he has any children of his own and if he thought about my son's family when he pulled the trigger," the father said. "I just want to talk to the officer and find out why my son died and what he did."
Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe called the shooting a tragedy and extended his sympathy to the Marszalek family.
"There's no more difficult of a decision to make than that," Tracy said of an officer-involved shooting. "It's not something that comes easy."Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.