Nearly a year after fatal police-involved shooting, families still need answers

MIRAMAR, Fla. – Saturday marks one year since a fatal shootout between law enforcement officers and two armed suspects. Two innocent bystanders were caught in the crossfire. Bullets flew near drivers in the middle of a busy roadway. The two suspects in a jewelry store burglary also died.

As the Florida Department of Law Enforcement waits for lab test results related to the investigation, the families of the innocent bystanders, Frank Ordonez, 27, and Rick Cutshaw, 70, and the two suspects, Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Hill, are still waiting for answers.

“I saw the whole episode play out on live TV, as did my brother who lives in Germany, and of course, we didn’t know until the next day that our brother had been involved in this,” Cutshaw’s brother Thomas Cutshaw said, adding his brother was a jokester and a storyteller who didn’t deserve to die that day.

Richard Cutshaw was caught in the crossfire of a shootout between police and robbers when he was killed. (WPLG)

Once the FDLE investigation includes the lab test results, the Broward County State Attorney’s Office will review it. Prosecutors will have to determine if a grand jury also needs to review the case. The grand jury’s task is to decide if prosecutors need to file charges in the case.

“It says right on the death certificate that the cause of death is a homicide — homicide is a polite word for murder, and it says the manner of death is a gunshot wound to the head,” Thomas Cutshaw said.

Law enforcement stand near a vehicle at the crime scene where four people were killed, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 in Miramar, Fla. The FBI says four people, including a UPS driver, were killed after robbers stole the driver's truck and led police on a chase that ended in gunfire at a busy Florida intersection during rush hour. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald via AP)

The tragedy started with a jewelry store burglary in Coral Gables. Alexander and Hill, the armed burglary suspects, are also accused of kidnapping Ordonez while he was working for UPS.

After the heist, Alexander and Hill are accused of using Ordonez’s UPS truck as a getaway vehicle for about 23 miles. Ordonez was held at gunpoint during the chase.

Frank Ordonez died Dec. 5, 2019 in a police-involved shooting after he was kidnapped while working as a UPS driver in Coral Gables. (Local 10 News)

The chase started in Miami-Dade County and ended in Broward County. Several law enforcement agencies were involved. The chase ended when deputies cornered the truck on Miramar Parkway, near Flamingo Road.

The gunfire began in the middle of rush hour traffic. Ordonez was trying to escape. Rick Cutshaw was sitting in his car on his way home from work. He was a field representative for the Government Supervisors Association of Florida/OPEIU Local 100.

“Everybody showed up, 20 different men with weapons all with their own agenda ... the eventual circular firing squad ... with nobody in charge,” Thomas Cutshaw said, adding that “they started using civilians, people in crosswalks and cars that would block as human shields and kept firing ... It Iooked like a warzone.”

Since Cutshaw died, Thomas Cutshaw said his mother hasn’t been the same. She just hasn’t been able to understand how Cutshaw could have been killed in a police shootout when he wasn’t committing a crime. From that moment on, her health just went downhill, he said.

Attorney Adam Finkel is representing both the Cutshaw and the Ordonez families. Ordonez’s loved ones are planning to hold a vigil on Saturday in Miami-Dade.

“The fact of the matter is until justice is achieved and these questions have answers, neither the Cutshaw nor Ordonez families will be able to get to this next step,” Finkel said.

Finkel said there is no excuse at all that the bodycam footage and the video showing what happened hasn’t been released to the families and to the public. Finkel said the families also don’t know which firearm was ultimately responsible for the fatal shot.

On Friday, FDLE sent Local 10 this statement: “Our investigation is active.  Agents finished their investigative work and are waiting on two outside lab reports to finalize our portion of the case.   Once we are finished, we present our information to the State Attorney and they determine whether or not the use of force was justified.  We appreciate the patience of our community, in particular the families impacted by this tragic event.”

About the Authors:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.