MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The family of one of the innocent bystanders killed in a police shootout in Miramar has hired a high-profile law firm to try and get some answers.
Richard Cutshaw, 70, a union representative was killed in the crossfire between police and two jewelry store robbers who hijacked a UPS truck and were holding the driver hostage after a 23-mile chase ended in Miramar on December 5.
Cutshaw’s family released a statement on Friday.
“What happened to Richard is a tragedy that no other family should have to bear. He was sitting in his car on his way from a job he loved, when the intersection around him erupted into a war zone. We cannot make sense of what happened to him; it’s unfathomable.”
“Rick was a beloved son, brother, uncle, godfather, and friend. He worked tirelessly his entire life trying to make lives better for the thousands of people he represented through the United Food and Commercial Workers Union in Florida, and currently as a field representative for the Government Supervisors Association of Florida (OPEIU/Local-100 AFL-CIO).”
“His work wasn’t done; at age 70 he still hadn’t retired. We think he would have missed the interaction with the staff and members of the Local greatly. 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.”
Ordonez is the 27-year-old UPS driver, who was also killed in the crossfire involving four different law enforcement agencies.
Ordonez was buried this week. His heartbroken family has also hired an attorney on his behalf
The chase began after a jewelry store robbery in Coral Gables, where a woman was struck in the head by a ricocheting bullet. Authorities said 41-year-old cousins Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Jerome Hill fled the store, hijacked Ordonez’s UPS truck and led police on a chase on I-75. When the truck exited the interstate, it got stuck in traffic at a busy Miramar intersection where the shootout took place.
Both suspects, Ordonez, and Cutshaw were all killed.
“Our hearts go out to the Cutshaw family and Richard’s friends across the community,” said Cutshaw family attorney Adrian Mendiondo from the Morgan and Morgan law firm. “We have been asked to help them find answers to what happened, and why. They deserve a comprehensive investigation into the sequence of events that led to his death. We ask anyone who has any information, photographs, or audio or video records to provide those records to the investigators, and to us. We need to make sure this incident is not overlooked or swept under the rug. 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.”
Mendiondo said they will be dissecting the police pursuit.
“There were so many agencies involved. Police agencies around the country are taking second, third, and fourth looks at pursuits because inevitably somebody gets hurt.
Mendiondo says, “Certainly it matters Who fired first. But the actions of the police appear to increase the danger.”
“It certainly could have ended without the death of Mr. Cutshaw and the UPS driver. Whether it should have happened is the question we are asking right now.”
A memorial service for Cutshaw is planned for next Wednesday.
In his Pembroke Pines neighborhood where Cutshaw lived for decades, Cutshaw’s untimely death is deeply felt.
Cutshaw was known for helping everyone at any time.
His good friend and neighbor Willie B. says Cutshaw was helping him resolve a pension matter the day before he died.
“My heart hurts when I see his car isn’t there anymore,” he says.
“Everybody had a feeling about him. It’s painful.”