Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Lacking Judgement, Sacrificing Lives

"Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong. [The incident] was really, really bad."
"[Stopping them by any means -- even with bullets -- was] absolutely the right thing to do."
"In a situation like this, the police are reactve. This is not a situation they want to be in. Their hand was forced."
David Klinger, criminal justice professor, University of Missouri, St.Louis

"We don't always have to be the warrior. Sometimes we have to understand that retreating is OK. You don't always have to get the bad guy."
"[The video was] one of the most tragic [she has seen]. Yes, the suspects are responsible, absolutely, but we are also responsible for every single round that went toward innocent bystanders."
"Each one of them had the potential to kill someone."
Heather Taylor, homicide sergeant, president, Ethical Society of Police, St.Louis
Shootout in Florida leaves four dead

This was a violent episode that happened to be recorded on live television where dozens of police officers with drawn weapons swarmed a UPS truck that had been hijacked. The truck was stuck, crowded in the centre of rush-hour traffic at a busy intersection in south Florida. Two men suspected of armed robbery were in the truck, along with the truck driver whom they had taken hostage. All the while police officers continued to take shots at the truck, bystanders were trapped helplessly in their cars, alongside the truck.

At its conclusion four people were left dead, the two hijackers, the UPS driver, 27 years of age, and a 70-year-old man idling at the light at the intersection, while waiting for it change so he could proceed to make his way home after work. U.S. national news circulated video of the event, and viewers and social media alike questioned the manner in which the event unfolded in the midst of a crowd of homebound traffic at rush hour, with police feeling it perfectly suitable to shoot at suspects, endangering innocent civilians.

Police surround a UPS truck in South Florida December 5, 2019. WSVN-TV via NNS

The family of the young UPS driver minced no words, that it was the height of irresponsibility, a total lack of professionalism for the police involved to exchange fire in such a crowded environment, packed with vulnerable people where the potential for inadvertent death and injury was palpable. The police do have their defenders who feel they had little option but to react as they did, confronting a deadly threat. Would the two criminals have murdered the UPS driver, or allowed him to go, unscathed? No one can ever know.

UPS driver Frank Ordonez  killed  Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019

Unknown is who it was that fired the shots that killed Frank Ordonez, the UPS driver and the elderly man Richard Cutshaw,  whose vehicle was idling at the light. Where the bullets were fired from, and how many went flying around the scene. According to Professor Klinger, given the chaotic episode and its calamitous conclusion it represented "a perfect example" why police are permitted to use deadly force against dangerous criminals, given that Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Jerome Hill had a trail of violence left behind them that fateful evening.

It was originally a high-speed chase through two counties that interrupted residents' rush hour commute home. A Miami-area jewellery store was the focus of the two men's actions, which triggered a silent alarm, and where a female store employee had been injured while the two would-be robbers and the store owner exchanged fire. The gunmen sped north in a truck, commandeering the UPS truck as the driver was making deliveries. That's when a number of police cars sped after the UPS truck, the driver trapped inside.

Officers surrounded the truck when it became boxed in by traffic. The interpretation that homicide sergeant Heather Taylor arrived at, as she viewed the video footage was of police refusing to retreat, preferring to place innocent civilians in jeopardy because of their ill-thought-out decision. Officers could have engaged the robbers when a clearer opportunity presented itself as far as she was concerned, instead of opening fire in the crowded intersection.

An FBI official at the scene of a shooting, Thursday in Miramar, Fla. Four people, including a UPS driver, were killed in the shootout between the armed robbers and police authorities.
Brynn Anderson/AP

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