FDLE raises questions about OPD shooting; we deserve answers

On a busy holiday-shopping day last November, in a crowded parking lot near Fashion Square mall, Orlando police officers repeatedly shot an unarmed man.

Why? Officers said that suspected thief Rogelio Cortes was "ramming" a police car with his van.

"When somebody is ramming into a car, that's deadly force," OPD spokeswoman Lt. Barbara Jones said at the time.

Added Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent Danny Banks: "If you are going to attack a police officer, you can expect to get shot."

Now, however, there are serious questions about what happened.

And they're being raised by the FDLE.

According to the "Use of Force" investigation, the FDLE unearthed video evidence that contradicts the officers' claims that Cortes rammed their car.

To the contrary, the FDLE concluded that it was a cop car doing the pushing. The report cited surveillance video from the Target parking lot that showed Cortes' van "was pushed from behind, inconsistent with the accounts of witness interviews."

The "witnesses" were cops.

The 22-page report went on to say that, while officers claimed Cortes "floored the accelerator" and made his tires "squeal and spin," the evidence contradicted that as well.

The report cited "an absence of any acceleration marks created by the white mini van driven by Cortes," saying the only tire marks appear to have been created by the police vehicle behind him.

'No action'

The FDLE says it notarized the report and gave it to both State Attorney Lawson Lamar and the Orlando Police Department on March 21.

Lamar's office said last week that it decided in June to take "no action."

The head of OPD's Internal Affairs said his division was still reviewing the matter.

Meanwhile, the man hospitalized after being shot five times — once through his stomach and another time through his arm — is still facing a charge of attempting to elude a law-enforcement officer with injury.

His trial is scheduled for November.

It all started Nov. 20 when a thief stole the credit card of the wrong guy: the husband of OPD Sgt. Rhonda Huckelbery.

Huckelbery began investigating her own husband's incident, discovered more victims were involved and the next day wound up at the Target, where two of the suspects had been spotted.

 

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