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Editorial: Yes, the family of UPS driver killed in shootout deserves answers from law enforcement

The Miami Herald Editorial Board, Miami Herald on

Published in Op Eds

As they buried their son, the parents and stepparents of UPS driver Frank Ordonez, killed during a jewelry store heist and ensuing police chase, are demanding answers, transparency and accountability. They should get it, but it might take awhile.

"I know nothing," Luz Apolinario told reporters Tuesday as she left the funeral of her 27-year-old son, whose death was captured live on South Florida television and seen by those watching a police chase that turned so violent. No law enforcement agency has contacted her with even a minimal explanation, she said.

That's just plain cruel.

With the FBI the lead investigative agency, the cone of silence over the case is no surprise and necessary -- mostly.

Ordonez's survivors are not the first family to be left in the dark about the killing of a beloved relative. However, what this family is enduring was front and center on television screens community wide. Scores of commuters were caught in the live action, amid, incredibly live bullets fired by police and the robbers.

Some law-enforcement official should reach out to this family, whose loved one suffered a most public hostage-taking and horrific death. Words of some comfort, perhaps. Words of admiration that he courageously tried to save himself.

No secrets revealed, not investigation compromised. Just the human touch.

In the week since the heist, authorities and the public have questioned law-enforcement officers' burst of firepower on a Miramar, Fla., highway crowded with innocent bystanders. The 911 tapes from the scene were released on Wednesday.

Long term, police departments should seriously, and transparently, again rethink how police chases should -- and shouldn't -- be played out, especially with gunplay. The 911 tapes revealed some drivers had bullet holes in their cars. Motorist Richard Cutshaw, 70, was killed by a stray bullet.

 

Clearly, it's a complex case, with several crime scenes, a two-county police-car chase and violent gun battle that left Ordonez dead after fighting to get out of the bullet-riddled UPS truck. The two robbers, Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Hill, who started it all, were also killed.

Given the geographical range of the crime, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, two states attorney offices, and Miami-Dade, Broward and Coral Gables will be involved.

Though the public will not know the details of this tragedy for some time, especially whose bullets struck Ordonez and Cutshaw, Ordonez's loved ones, who are consumed with grief, deserve to hear something -- anything -- about the loss of this father of two little girls.

For now, Ordonez's family needs some information. Their loved one died in a hail of bullets. That's not in dispute. They are grieving. They are angry. And they deserve some respect.

(c)2019 Miami Herald

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