Brevard County

Former Brevard County deputy acquitted of murder, attempted murder for 2016 road rage shooting

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A Brevard County jury acquitted a former Central Florida deputy Friday who had been charged with murder and attempted murder for a shooting on father’s day in 2016.

Jurors deliberated for about three and a half hours before reaching their verdict Friday evening.

Yousef Hafza took the stand Friday to explain why he shot 25-year-old Clarence Howard in an incident prosecutors call an act of road rage.

Hafza said on the stand he never saw a weapon and, throughout his entire encounter, never identified himself as a law enforcement officer.

Prosecutors said that Hafza also didn’t call 911 before the shooting that claimed Howard’s life. Howard was a passenger in a car driven by Jose Montanez. He and Hafza almost crashed in the area of Emerson Drive and Minton Road in Palm Bay.

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Montanez admitted to following Hafza from there.

“I thought they were going to leave at some point,” Hafza said. “I hadn’t done anything to them. There was no reason for me to be alarmed.”

But Hafza said after Montanez made more than one attempt to block his vehicle, he stopped near the intersection of Emerson and St. John’s Heritage Parkway.

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Hafza testified he stepped out of his vehicle from a distance and told the men, “I’m good,” but Howard advanced toward him.

“You would have to address the threat, eliminate the threat that’s presented to you,” Hafza said from the stand. “Unfortunately, in this situation it meant I had to shoot Clarence Howard.”

Deliberations began shortly after 5 p.m.

READ: Former Brevard County deputy faces murder charges in fatal road rage shooting

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.