6 police agencies named in lawsuit over Miramar UPS truck driver shooting

Frank Ordonez killed after being taken hostage after jewelry store robbery

MIRAMAR, Fla. – A lawsuit on behalf of a United Parcel Service driver killed during a hostage situation names 6 police agencies alleging that they behaved negligently. The lawsuit was also filed on behalf of another man, seriously hurt in the chase and shootout that ended on the Miramar Parkway. The suit alleges that Carlos Lara was seriously hurt when bullets hit his car as police used his vehicle as a shield during the gunfight.

It all began on Thursday, Dec. 5 after a holdup alarm was triggered about 4:15 p.m. at Regent Jewelers on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables. Two men, dressed as postal workers, rang the buzzer to get into the locked jewelry store. Thinking they were making a delivery, they were let in.

After the robbery attempt, suspects Ronnie Bell and Lamar Alexander took off in a U-Haul, later ditching it a mile away on Mariana Avenue, where they kidnapped Ordonez and stole his truck.

That’s when a chase ensued — with police following the suspects all the way from Miami-Dade to Broward County. It was revealed last March that at least 19 different officers from four different agencies all fired their weapons that day.

Four people died — including the two suspects and Ordonez. The fourth victim — 70 year old Rick Cutshaw was killed while driving nearby after getting caught in the crossfire. Lara was wounded as he sat in his car.

(See the complete lawsuit below.)

On Wednesday, the family of Ordonez — along Lara — officially filed a lawsuit against the six police agencies as defendants. The lawsuit names the Miami-Dade Police Department, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol and the Miramar, Doral and Pembroke Pines police departments.

The complaint states: "On Dec. 5, 2019, Frank Ordonez was working for the United Parcel Service in Coral Gables, Florida, when his truck was hijacked by Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Jerome Hill. Inside the UPS truck, Frank Ordonez was taken hostage by Alexander and Hill, as they proceeded to flee the scene of a robbery in Coral Gables. After law enforcement, including the Defendants, became aware of the hostage scenario, a high-speed chase of the truck, with Ordonez inside, ensued. While on or near the Miramar Parkway, and surrounded by civilian vehicles, including vehicles occupied by Richard Cutshaw and Carlos Lara, the truck was confronted by law enforcement. Ultimately, the Defendants:

a. discharged their firearms upon the truck, and in the close vicinity of occupied civilian vehicles, and/or

b. supported and aided other Defendants in discharging their firearms upon the truck and in the close vicinity of occupied civilian vehicles, and/or

c. negligently engaged in the pursuit of the truck, thereby leading to the eventual shootout in close vicinity of occupied civilian vehicles.

The complaint states that as a result of the negligent pursuit and the shootout, Ordonez was killed and Lara sustained serious injuries. It then names the charges against each individual agency and their failures, some of which include, failing to negotiate with the robbers, failing to communicate with other law enforcement agencies in order to develop and executive a collaborative means of addressing the hostage scenario, failing to stop the truck in an area that was not populated by civilians, along with not corralling, directing, or otherwise leading the truck away from civilian traffic, and other actions which the lawsuit claims were negligent.

The attorneys for both families sent this statement:

“The Ordonez and Lara families — and the public — have the right to know what happened, and how law enforcement reacted on this tragic day,” Attorneys Michael Haggard and Adam Finkel said in a statement. “We hope the defendant police departments will release copies of their body worn camera footage and patrol car radio transmissions,” the statement said. “What happened that day should never have occurred.”

The Broward Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday it was not involved in the shootout. “The allegations filed in the lawsuit incorrectly assert that the Broward Sheriff’s Office participated in the pursuit and apprehension of the suspects. Our Aviation Unit transported a patient to the hospital; however, no BSO deputies were involved in the very tragic incident. We continue to pray for peace for those who lost a loved one," the BSO said in a statement sent to Local 10.

To this day, Ordonez’s family still doesn’t know who fired off the bullets that killed their loved one. They’re hoping police body camera video will shed more light.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement continues to investigate the case.

About the Authors:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

Michelle F. Solomon is a multi-platform producer/reporter for Local10 and is the podcast producer/reporter/host of the station's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and producer of Local10.com's DigiShorts.