Miami-Dade Police director addresses tough questions about shootout with UPS carjackers

MIRAMAR, FLA. (WSVN) - The day after a multi-agency police chase of a carjacked UPS truck ended in a shootout that killed four, including the UPS driver and the robbery subjects who abducted him, the Miami-Dade Police Department’s director said he believes the situation could’ve ended differently.

7News spoke with MDPD director Juan Perez Friday during an emotional and critical time of the investigation.

When asked how the outcome of the chase from Coral Gables to Miramar could’ve been prevented, Perez replied, “One thing for sure is that, if the subjects wouldn’t have shot, no shots would have rung, none would have gone out.”

Perez said he believes the brazen duo opened fire first.

“My understanding is that they shot first,” he said.

Perez then elaborated on how he thinks the tragic outcome could have been avoided.

“By two individuals not deciding to do a brazen robbery in the middle of the afternoon in Coral Gables,” he said. “Where that vehicle came to a stop, we didn’t choose that location. There was a lot of traffic.”

Asked whether spike strips were used, he said, “Spike strips are utilized, but spike strips in a situation where the subjects are shooting at police officers already, it’s difficult to lay down the spike strips.”

7News showed Perez a video of the UPS truck parked in the middle of traffic and the Miami-Dade Police officers huddled behind one of the civilian cars, which they used as a shield as they drew their weapons at the truck.

When asked if that was an effective tactic for police to employ in that situation, Perez replied, “There’s numerous videos than need be reviewed. There’s numerous videos, and after the review is done, after those officers explain all their actions, and after they provide statements, all that will be discussed.”

7News showed some of this footage to Jack Dale, a retired police captain who was head of internal affairs at the Broward Sheriff’s Office and Fort Lauderdale Police.

From his perspective, Dale said, using a civilian vehicle as a shield, and shooting at the truck despite who was in and around it, though not ideal, may have been the only option at the time.

“They came out of the truck firing at police, and that left police with little response, or little options, other than to return fire,” said Dale.

“We don’t even know whose rounds struck them right now. It’s kind of early on,” said Perez. “The officers were victimized as well by being shot at, and not once did they pause or backed up or decide to go in a different direction and let these perpetrators continue, ’cause if they would have done that, and these individuals continued to carjack other people or enter other businesses nearby — where that vehicle stopped, there’s plenty of commercial establishments nearby — this could have gone worse than how it ended.”

The FBI is investigating the robbery at Regent Jewelers, while Perez said that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will investigate the shooting itself.

Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.