Miami-Dade officers charged in shooting that killed UPS driver, witness in Broward

Four Miami-Dade police officers have been charged in connection with a fatal shooting that occurred nearly five years ago at a busy intersection in Broward County, police sources told the Miami Herald.

The shooting rampage, which involved 19 police officers from at least three agencies, occurred on December 6, 2019, when unwitting drivers lined up along Miramar Parkway and Flamingo Road. Earlier in the day, two men robbed a jewelry store in Coral Gables and hijacked a UPS truck.

This sparked a high-speed interstate chase and shootout that left the robbery suspects and two innocent men dead. For years, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Broward State Attorney’s Office have remained tight-lipped about the case. FDLE completed its investigation in 2021, forwarding its findings to prosecutors.

The names of the accused officers and the charges against them are currently unknown.

“Grand jury proceedings are secret under Florida law, and any proceedings or actions taken by a grand jury are not public until a judge orders them to be so,” the Broward State Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “We are unable to comment on the matter at this time.”

The Miami-Dade Police Department told the Miami Herald it had no comment as of Monday evening.

Officers were notified of the indictment and contacted the police union, said Steadman Stahl, president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association. They are expected to report next week.

“We are extremely disappointed that after almost five years, these officers were charged with something they had seconds to make a decision,” Stahl told the Miami Herald. “It is chilling for officers in Broward County that their State Attorney’s Office is prosecuting one officer for failing to respond to an active shooter and is now charging officers with responding to an active shooter. As the trial progresses, we will monitor it and defend our officers.”

Chaos on crowded streets

The events leading up to the shooting began to unfold when 41-year-old Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Jerome Hill, disguised as couriers, entered the Regents Jewelers store at 386 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables.

One of the men wore a flesh-colored mask and a U.S. Postal Service hat. They both had high-powered weapons and fired them almost instantly. The bullet ricocheted off the floor and hit the employee in the head, but she survived.

When the store owner retrieved the gun, a hail of bullets rained down. Taking tens of thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry, the men jumped into the truck. They abandoned the vehicle on Southwest Eighth Street and kidnapped Frank Ordonez, a 27-year-old father of two who routinely made UPS truck deliveries.

Moments later, police began pursuing the truck on Interstate 75. But when the truck became stuck at the Miramar intersection, chaos ensued.

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The officers took cover behind the cars. When the shooting stopped, Hill and Alexander, who had exchanged more than 200 rounds with officers, were dead.

It was the same with Ordonez and 70-year-old local union worker Rick Cutshaw, who was returning home when the shooting began.

In 2020, Ordonez’s family members filed a wrongful death lawsuit against six law enforcement agencies, claiming negligence. Broward U.S. District Judge Keathan Frink dismissed the lawsuit after determining that police could not be held liable due to sovereign immunity, a principle derived from English common law that largely prevents governments from being sued without their consent.

Attorney Michael Haggard, who represented the family, described the police actions as “sheer recklessness.”