FLORIDA: Police Kill UPS Worker Held Hostage in Shootout

Photo: UPS truck that Frank Ordonez was driving before being taken hostage by robbery suspects and killed in a shootout with police

By Ben Robinson

Frank Ordonez in uniform
Frank Ordonez

On December 5 in Broward County outside of Miami, police shot and killed UPS Worker Frank Ordonez after his truck was hijacked by robbery suspects during a car chase. Rather than attempting hostage negotiations, the police shot at the getaway vehicle while it was stuck in traffic, leading to a massive shootout that resulted in the deaths of the two suspects, Ordonez, and Richard Cutshaw, an innocent bystander.

Reports from police officials indicate that at least 18 different officers fired at the vehicle and an estimated 200 rounds were exchanged in the firefight. Videos from the scene also show officers using both police cruisers and occupied civilian cars as shields.

Police use occupied civilian vehicles for cover during the shootout

The 27-year-old, survived by his two young daughters, did “everything [for] the girls,” his step-father Joe Merino said. He had worked at UPS for several years saving up for an apartment and had just received news that he was to get his own delivery route right before he was killed.

Ordonez with one of his daughters alternate
Frank Ordonez with one of his daughters

While investigators have still not determined whether the bullets that killed Ordonez and Cutshaw were fired from police or the robbers, Ordonez’s family has denounced the reckless tactics used in the encounter. His step-father Joe Merino spoke frankly when describing the role of police in his death, saying “They murdered him.” He went on to say that his son “wasn’t afforded that right — the right that police is supposed to protect all of us — and they didn’t protect him when he most needed it.”

Ordonez’s sister Genevie Merino also had choice words for the officers involved in the shootout, posting on social media “Today I lost my brother, because of the fucking negligence and stupidity of the police. Instead of negotiating with a hostage situation they just shot everyone, including my brother.”

The police involved have been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation. Unlike those they oppress, they will not be treated as criminals throughout the investigations and legal proceedings. In Merino’s words, the “officers that created the chaos went home to their families, but Frank didn’t.”

The police under investigation will continue to receive paychecks, they will not be held in jail, and they will be given every benefit of the doubt. Furthermore, based on the US “justice” system’s track record in convicting police for the deaths of innocent people, the officers involved will likely walk free.

Other UPS and delivery workers have shown solidarity by donating to an online fundraiser for Ordonez’s family. Many of the commenters have expressed anger at the police, while others criticized UPS for not assisting the family and point to the company’s statement that they “appreciate law enforcement’s service,” when this service resulted in his untimely death.

Merino is correct to point out that the police in fact do not serve and protect everyone,  Ordonez’s life as a working-class man had less value to them than recovering stolen property and ensuring the criminals did not get away. This case exposes the lie that the police protect everyone rather than enforce the laws that protect the bourgeoisie and their property. Justice for Ordonez and the other victims of police brutality will not be won through the current system. In Merino’s words, “We need action.”