Attorneys representing the family of a motorist killed in the crossfire of a police shootout in Miramar two weeks ago called in the media on Tuesday to say they were certain lives could have been spared had police acted more cautiously.
But they were not yet sure if they were going to file a lawsuit over the death of union leader Richard Cutshaw.
“What we’re looking at is what could the police have done differently,” said attorney Adrian Mendiondo of the law firm Morgan & Morgan. “What happened here is two people got killed who should not have been killed.”
Cutshaw, a 70-year-old union representative, was sitting in his car at the busy intersection of Miramar Parkway and Flamingo Road on Dec. 5, when he, along with dozens of other motorists, became trapped in a gun battle between police and robbery suspects Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Jerome Hill. Alexander and Hill were killed. Also killed was a 27-year-old UPS driver named Frank Ordonez, whom the duo had taken hostage.
Almost two weeks after the shootout, it’s still not clear if Ordonez was shot during the exchange of gunfire or at some point during the 23-mile police chase that began in Coral Gables, where Alexander and Hill were suspected of ripping of a high-end jewelry store. After they fled from there, they hijacked the UPS truck driven by Ordonez, which led to the chase. It’s also not clear yet whether a bullet from police or the robbers struck Cutshaw.
The attorneys hired by Cutshaw’s family members — brothers and sisters and mother; he was single with no kids — said they are seeking public help in gathering information, hoping anyone with video of the shootout or chase will pass it along.
Police, who used vehicles in the intersection to shield themselves from gunfire, have defended the response, saying they were trying to prevent motorists from possibly being taken hostage.
But Morgan & Morgan attorney Nick Panagakis cautioned it was too early to reach that conclusion.
“I think that conclusion, how it happened, how it went down, is premature at this point,” he said.
A private service for Cutshaw will take place Wednesday. Though the body has been released, his family has yet to received the results from the autopsy.