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PBA President reacts to Broward manslaughter cases against Miami-Dade police officers

PBA President reacts to Broward manslaughter cases against Miami-Dade police officers

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. — More than four years after a fatal police-involved shooting in Broward County, Miami-Dade officer Leslie Lee, who was involved in the shooting, turned himself in to Broward Sheriff’s Office correctional officers on Saturday, after three of his colleagues turned themselves in on Friday.

On Sunday, Steadman Stahl, president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association, said during “This Week In South Florida” that Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Jerome Hill — not the four accused Miami-Dade police officers — were responsible for the Dec. 5, 2019, tragedy near Miramar Parkway and Flamingo Road in Miramar.

“They entered a jewelry store in Coral Gables, on Miracle Mile of all places, and stormed in with guns drawn and shot a store clerk in the head,” Stahl said. “Then they began a multi-county chase, shooting at police officers.”

Miami-Dade police officers Richard Santiesteban, Jose Mateo and Rodolfo Mirabal turned themselves in on Friday and Officer Leslie Lee turned himself in on Saturday. (BSO)

Stahl said Broward prosecutors convinced a grand jury to indict Lee, 57, and officers Richard Santiesteban, Jose Mateo and Rodolfo Mirabal on two counts of manslaughter with a firearm. The other three each face one count of the same charge. They were released without bail after their surrender.

“The decision whether to use deadly force is among the most serious and consequential decisions a police officer can make,” Broward District Attorney Harold F. Pryor said in a statement. “We understand that these decisions are often made under difficult and uncertain circumstances.”

After robbing Regent Jeweler, Alexander and Hill, both 41, fled in a U-Haul van and abandoned it before kidnapping Frank Ordonez, a UPS driver, during the carjacking of his UPS van.

“When they stole the truck, if they didn’t want to cause more damage, they could have pushed the driver out of the truck and just taken the car,” Stahl said. “They knew what they were going to do. They wanted to commit all kinds of atrocities.”

Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Jerome Hill were killed in a police-involved shooting in Miramar on Dec. 5, 2019, following a kidnapping, carjacking, attempted murder, burglary, shooting at police officers and speeding at police, police said. (Florida Department of Corrections)

Florida Highway Patrol officers and police officers from the Miami-Dade, Pembroke Pines and Miramar police departments pursued the armed burglars and their kidnapping victim until traffic forced them to stop.

Stahl said Mirabal (39), Santiesteban (33), Mateo (32) and Lee did what they were supposed to do.

“Every single officer, every single one of them, there are 20 of them, is responsible for neutralizing the threat until the shooting stops – every single one of them, and that’s what they did,” Stahl said.

The shooting occurred in the middle of rush hour. Four people died: Ordonez, 27, the kidnapping and carjacking victim; Richard Cutshaw, an innocent passerby on his way home; and the two armed robbers.

“The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted a comprehensive investigation into the officers involved in the shooting and the circumstances surrounding the incident,” Pryor said in a statement.

Frank Ordonez (left) and Richard Cutshaw died in a shootout between two burglars and police in Miramar on December 5, 2019. Ordonez was the burglars’ kidnapping and carjacking victim. Cutshaw was an innocent bystander who was on his way home in his car. (Photos courtesy)

The FDLE submitted its findings to the Attorney General’s Office on September 15, 2021.

“Given the enormity of the shooting in this incident at an extremely busy intersection filled with civilian motorists and pedestrians, we have presented these agencies’ findings to the grand jury,” Pryor said in a statement.

The grand jury indicted Mirabal in the deaths of Ordonez, a father of two girls, and Cushaw, 70, a union official who was born in Massachusetts.

“More could have happened if the guys had gotten out of the truck, and here was a Chick-fil-A, a CVS, cars parked around. There could have been several, more hostages,” Stahl said. “These guys didn’t want to stop. And the family that’s upset, I can understand. It’s misplaced anger. The devils were the two robbers who had a long history… one had just gotten out of prison after serving 20 years…

“These boys would not find a peaceful end.”

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Local 10 News reporters Bridgette Matter and Annaliese Garcia and Assignment Desk planning editor Frine Gomez contributed to this report.

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