Four Florida Officers Indicted for 2019 Shootout

( – Prosecutors in Broward County, Florida announced Saturday June 15 that four police officers involved in the December 2019 car chase and shootout have been indicted in the deaths of the UPS driver and another uninvolved driver.

Frank Ordonez was the driver of the UPS driver that was hijacked by Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Jerome Hill as they fled the scene of a jewelry store robbery. The other driver was 70-year-old Richard Cutshaw. It is rare for Florida law enforcement officers to be charged for an on-duty killing.

Immediately before the shootout on December 5, 2019, Alexander and Hill robbed the Regent Jewelers store in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables. Gunfire broke out when the police arrived, and a store employee was injured by a ricocheting bullet. The suspects then hijacked Ordonez as he delivered packages, taking him hostage and using his UPS van to lead police on a 30-mile car chase.

They narrowly avoided crashing, ran red lights and fired at pursuing law enforcement. When blocked at a busy intersection officers approached the car and gunfire was exchanged. In the aftermath, Hill, Alexander and Ordonez were found dead in the van, and Cutshaw in his own vehicle

The incident has been under investigation for almost five years and a grand jury deliberated for months resulting in the inditements. Miami-Dade County officer 29-year-old Rodolfo Mirabal was indicted for manslaughter in both Ordonez and Cutshaw’s deaths. The others, 32-year-old Jose Mateo, 33-year-old Richard Santiesteban and 57-year-old Leslie Lee were indicted for manslaughter regarding Ordonez only. Santiesteban has since been fired for unrelated reasons, and Lee has retired. All four officers surrendered on Friday or Saturday and have since been released without bail.

South Florida Police Benevolent Association president Steadman Stahl released a public statement expressing his disappointment in the inditements. He claims this could have a “chilling effect” on law enforcement as it sends mixed messages. Steadman claims that previously the Broward County state attorney’s office has prosecuted law enforcement for not responding to an active shooter and now they are being prosecuted for responding to active shooters. Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor commented that they understand that deadly force decisions are made during intense and uncertain circumstances. He also stressed the importance of getting answers for the victims’ families and the community.

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