Lawyers for the family of the hijacked UPS driver killed in a police shootout in Miramar last year say they will file another lawsuit on behalf of the other innocent victim, while blaming police for turning a public street into what they called a war zone.
Attorneys for the family of Frank Ordonez held a news conference Thursday where the mother of Ordonez's two daughters spoke for the first time since he was killed in the December 15, 2019 incident.
Jasmine Martinez said she has been trying to stay strong for her girls, who are just 4 and 6.
"It's been pretty hard. My two girls loved their dad. All I have to focus on is them," Martinez told reporters.
Attorney Michael Haggard called the law enforcement actions that day "pure recklessness," and said police used civilians as human shields.
"They went in guns blazing without any regard for innocent lives," Haggard said.
Ordonez was the driver of a UPS truck that was hijacked following an armed robbery and shootout at a jewelry shop in Coral Gables that ended in a hail of gunfire that left four people including Ordonez, an innocent bystander and the two suspects dead in Miramar.
After the hijacking, authorities began a pursuit of the UPS truck, which sped up Interstate 75 into nearby Broward County.
After exiting the highway, the truck made its way through Pembroke Pines and Miramar with dozens of officers in pursuit. Officials said the suspects fired at officers while trying to evade authorities.
When the truck stopped in traffic at a light near Miramar Parkway and Flamingo Road, the suspects opened fire on officers, which resulted in an exchange of gunfire between law enforcement and the suspects, George Piro of the FBI said in a news conference after the incident.
Investigators have yet to release who fired the fatal shots that killed the 27-year-old Ordonez and Richard Cutshaw, a 70-year-old who was driving home from his job and was killed in the crossfire.
The Haggard law firm filed a lawsuit last month naming both the Miami-Dade Police Department and Broward Sheriff’s Office as defendants as well as the Florida Highway Patrol and police departments from the cities of Doral, Miramar and Pembroke Pines.
After filing the suit, the firm was contacted by a witness who said he heard police shoot first, Haggard said.
That witness was a driver who was on the opposite side of the truck from where video appears to show the first shot was fired by one of the robbers, touching off a fusillade of what police said were 195 gunshots.
But at Thursday's news conference, Haggard held up five bullet casings that the witness retrieved from near his windshield wipers, and suggested police overlooked evidence that at least 200 rounds were fired.
In the end, the lawyers said it does not matter who fired first. The negligence they claim in a state wrongful death action was in how six police agencies put innocent bystanders in danger when they opened fire.