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Family of commuter killed in police shootout demands accountability

Lisa J. Huriash, Sun Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The family of a 70-year-old bystander killed in last week's police shootout spoke out for the first time Friday, saying they want a thorough investigation to make sure the tragedy isn't "swept under the rug."

Richard Cutshaw was a commuter who was shot dead on Dec. 5 during a shootout in Miramar between two robbers and scores of police officers. In addition to Cutshaw, the fierce gunfight in a traffic-packed street also killed a UPS driver who had been taken hostage and two jewelry store robbers who had led police on a wild chase from Coral Gables to Miramar. Police haven't said whose bullets killed the four.

"We need to make sure this incident is not overlooked or swept under the rug," said Adrian Mendiondo, the attorney representing Cutshaw's family, in a statement. "It is a miracle that only two innocent persons were killed, and we have promised Richard's family that we will do everything in our power to hold those responsible accountable."

Cutshaw's family also released a statement that warmly remembered him. "What happened to Richard is a tragedy that no other family should have to bear," they said. "He was sitting in his car on his way from a job he loved, when the intersection around him erupted into a warzone. We cannot make sense of what happened to him; it's unfathomable."

"Rick was a beloved son, brother, uncle, godfather and friend."

On Thursday, the prosecutors' office in charge of reviewing the findings of law enforcement's investigation about what happened shifted to Broward at the request of the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. Officials would not say why the change was made. In most cases of police-related deaths, law enforcement investigates the case and presents its findings to the state attorney's office. Then prosecutors determine if any further investigation is needed and present the findings to a grand jury to decide if an indictment should be issued.

Last week's robbery began when a robber posing as a postal employee was buzzed into a jewelry store in Coral Gables and began shooting. A ricocheted bullet injured a woman.

As the robbers, Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Jerome Hill, fled from the business, they carjacked a UPS truck and kidnapped the driver, Frank Ordonez. That led to a police chase that ended in Miramar, where the robbers became ensnarled in traffic and exchanged gunfire with the police.

 

At least 18 officers from four agencies fired their guns.

Cutshaw worked for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union in Florida and was a field representative for the Government Supervisors Association of Florida.

"His work wasn't done; at age 70 he still hadn't retired," his family said in a statement Friday. "Sadly, we will no longer see his smile, hear his laughter, roll our eyes at his jokes, or see the playfulness that he always displayed. Our hearts are broken not only for our family but for that of Frank Ordonez as well."

(c)2019 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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