Family members speak out after fatal shooting in San Juan County
FARMINGTON, N.M. – Last month, a regional law enforcement task force made up of U.S. Marshals, San Juan County deputies, and Farmington police officers attempted to arrest a man on several felony warrants, but during the interaction a U.S. Marshal shot and killed the man.
The family said the marshal had no reason to pull the trigger, while law enforcement said their initial review says the marshal acted accordingly.
“Our task forces are charged with apprehending some of the most violent fugitives in the country,” United States Marshal for the district of New Mexico, Sonya Chavez said.
The mission that day was to arrest David Yniguez on multiple warrants included forgery, burglary, and other property crimes.
“So what evolved that day was our deputies and task force officers approached him, gave him verbal commands in an attempt to arrest him peacefully and he did not comply,” Chavez added.
But his family says there were other options, then to shoot.
“That shooting was wrong I know he wasn’t armed and he wasn’t trying to run any of the officers over,” Shane Brewer said, a close family friend.
Sandra Russell, David’s cousin added, “he was pretty much boxed in, if they were worried about him pulling off they could have shot the tires out, or tased him.”
But the marshal’s service said fleeing in a car can be a perceived as a threat to law enforcement.
“A vehicle in situations like this is considered a deadly weapon because you can kill someone with a vehicle,” said Chavez.
His family says he made some foolish decisions, but it shouldn’t have ended the way it did.
“What I saw is that U.S. Marshal didn’t even give him a chance, he shot him three times then he looked at him and said you’re dead. So that was telling me right there when he said ‘you’re dead’ he’s trigger-happy,” David’s father, David C. Yniguez said.
But law enforcement says Yniguez had a choice.
“His choices are to comply and turn himself in safely or not to, and sadly in this incident the subject choose not to comply with law enforcement and sadly that’s why it ended as it did,” said Chavez.
The marshals service would not comment on whether Yniguez had a gun. But the final report is heading to the local DA’s office for one final review.