LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – There are growing questions as to why the largest law enforcement agency in Arkansas failed to disclose they were in pursuit with a vehicle that later crashed, killing a 14-year-old.
Cindy Ortiz said she feels helpless and betrayed by a department sworn to protect.
“I feel like there’s no justice for my son,” Ortiz said.
Her 14-year-old son Zayne Ortiz was killed in March of 2021. He was a passenger in an SUV that authorities reported was being driven by a 12-year-old.
Ortiz said she did not know about any police pursuit until weeks after.
“I can’t do anything about it. I feel like nobody’s helping me. I feel like everybody lied to me,” Ortiz said.
Little Rock police never told the public about that night until 24 hours ago when it admits there was a lack of information and it will do better moving forward.
Working 4 You have pressed for the department to explain why it withheld information but LRPD refuses to answer.
“At this time, we will have no further comment on this matter,” a department spokesman wrote on Wednesday.
Julie Parker is a former TV news reporter and has worked in law enforcement media relations for the last decade.
She can’t speak specifically about the Little Rock Police Department but she has a general philosophy.
“Law enforcement agencies are part of the government and the government has the duty to explain to the public what it is occurred,” said Parker.
Parker now heads up her own communications firm, traveling the country to help law enforcement agencies. As a guest lecturer at the FBI Academy in Quantico, she’s teaching top police commanders across the country how to communicate with the public.
“In 2022, law enforcement agencies should know in order to maintain their positive reputation with their community, they have got to be forthcoming,” Parker said.
Sources said current assistant chiefs didn’t know about the chase until the story broke. Records reveal the department treated the case as a chain-of-command review so many people were not in the loop.
Ortiz said she knows LRPD made a mistake and wants a complete review of who knew what when and how some top commanders within LRPD didn’t even know about it.
“They knew that my son lost his life because of them and they didn’t want to acknowledge it,” Ortiz said.
Little Rock Vice Mayor Lance Hines said he plans to discuss the issue next week so the Board of Directors could discuss ways to ensure this never happens again.