FDLE raises questions about OPD shooting; we deserve answers

Cortes was not one of those suspects. But officers spotted him on the scene, "exhibiting a nervous demeanor" and later inviting the two suspects into his van.

That was when Huckelbery ordered a "takedown," and multiple unmarked cars surrounded Cortes' van. (Hucklebery was a passenger in the one that the FDLE later determined rammed Cortes' car.)

After Cortes' car started moving, other officers started firing.

Cortes faced a slew of charges — more than a half-dozen of them, ranging from attempted murder to fraud.

All but one of them were later dropped.

The State Attorney's Office said the fraud charges connected to the original credit-card investigation were "not suitable for prosecution."

Cortes' attorney, Tad Yates, said he's convinced authorities knew they had to dismiss most of the charges connected to the alleged "ramming" as soon as they saw the video of what happened.

"I am reluctant to speak about a pending criminal case," Yates said. "But I will say that my client and I are very thankful for the fact that a Target video camera recorded this incident."

The report also noted Cortes had several previous convictions on his record, though it didn't offer details or connect them in any way to this case. Yates said they were mostly property crimes.

What's next?

The Orlando Police Department does a lot of good work. And this newspaper often highlights it.

In the past week alone, we've penned stories about the department's innovative pairing with Harbor House to try to prevent domestic violence and with other local departments and radio station 104.1 FM to get unwanted guns off the street.

But trust between the department and the citizens is imperative.

That's why new Chief Paul Rooney, who did not respond to a request for comment, needs to take this matter seriously. So does Mayor Buddy Dyer.

Citizens deserve answers. So do the shoppers who witnessed flying bullets in the middle of a crowded parking lot. So does the man who got shot.

No one has sympathy for criminals.

And anyone who thinks about endangering a cop's life should know darn well that such an action may well be their last.

But when state investigators are raising questions, those involved should be ready to answer — and provide accountability.

smaxwell@tribune.com or 407-420-6141