By Dan Schwartz
The Daily Times
FARMINGTON, N.M. — The Farmington Police Department on Thursday released to The Daily Times dashboard and gas station camera videos involved in a March 12 high-speed chase that led to the death of John Marszalek II.
Before Marszalek died, he had rammed his blue Dodge truck into a Farmington patrol car at 20th Street and Butler Avenue and was slicing and stabbing his neck. He was hauled from his truck after Deputy U.S. Marshal Chris Spencer shot him through the vehicle's side rear window, which had been broken.
The San Juan County District Attorney's Office has yet to issue its opinion of whether the shooting was justified or a criminal act.
Rebecca Mora, New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator records manager, said her office will send Marszalek's autopsy and toxicology report to the Farmington Police Department and other law enforcement agencies today. The reports have been pending for almost three months.
If the District Attorney's Office receives the reports next week, it could release its opinion several weeks later, Chief Deputy District Attorney Brent Capshaw said. He said his office has not yet begun that process.
"No matter what we do," he said, "it's going to upset half the people in town."
Brandon Lane, detective sergeant with the Farmington police, the agency that investigated the chase, announced Wednesday evening that the videos were available. Lane, the investigating officer, was unavailable for comment on Thursday.
The videos were made public because the department had finished its investigations, said Georgette Allen, the police department's spokeswoman.
"Everything's been wrapped up," she said.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Ben Segotta, a Marshals Service spokesman, told The Daily Times on March 26 the service's Office of Inspection will conduct a use-of-force investigation and present its findings to the agency's shooting review board once Farmington police complete their investigations.
In one video captured by the 4909 East Main St. Valero Corner Store's surveillance camera, Marszalek drives to a gas pump and steps down from his truck at 2:08 p.m. on March 12. He paces for one minute by his blue truck before he grabs the pump. As his truck fuels, he continues pacing.
When he finishes fueling, he gets back behind the wheel and loops quickly around the pumps, rubber squealing, and a gray truck honks its horn as their bumpers nearly collide.
According to earlier Daily Times' reports, people began calling 911 shortly after 2 p.m. to report Marszalek's reckless driving. In four minutes, Lt. Casey Malone said in the report, 10 people called the police.
A San Juan County Sheriff's Office dashboard video later shows Marszalek's blue truck leaving a trail of dust as he speeds along a dirt median entering Farmington. He swerves twice to avoid spike strips set out by police to puncture his tires and slow him down. Then he stops at English Road at a red light and drives with traffic once it turns green.
He then turns onto 20th Street. A little later, a helicopter video shows him trapped at the intersection of Butler Avenue. A Farmington patrol car blocks the front of his truck. At least six vehicles, mostly police, idle closely behind him.
"He's been shot," a deputy in another dashboard video yells, standing in the bed of Marszalek's truck. "Chris just shot him."
Marszalek's driver door is opened, but a green Chevrolet truck trapped among the vehicles blocks the opening.
The deputy in the truck bed jumps to the road and motions rapidly like he is stabbing himself in the neck. He says Marszalek was stabbing himself.
The green truck drives away, and Marszalek's body is seen being pulled from the open door.
He is laid on the ground, motionless. An officer begins chest compressions. Eventually another takes over.
From the lapel camera of a Farmington police officer standing over Marszalek, visible are his arms, hands, exposed stomach and white shorts, which are spotted with blood. The officer helps carry Marszalek, who had been placed on a backboard, into an ambulance.
During the 20-minute chase preceding the shooting, Marszalek fled from police at more than 90 mph. He avoided all spike strips, according to police, and Tasers fired at close range once he was cornered were ineffective.
At red lights Marszalek climbed from his sun roof to stand atop the truck and flailed his arms and dropped his shorts, exposing himself, according to a Farmington police report. He nearly struck at least two pedestrians.
The autopsy will likely determine whether neck wounds or the bullet killed Marszalek. But his father, John Marszalek, said he knows what killed his son.
"His death was ruled a homicide," John Marszalek said on Thursday in a phone interview from the plant where he works in Detroit.
He said he received his son's death certificate this week, and the cause of death was listed as a homicide. Both the gun shot and neck wounds were listed as causes of death, but the box indicating suicide, he said, wasn't checked.
"In my opinion, homicide is murder," he said. "Up here in Detroit, that's what it means."
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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