A former sheriff's deputy is arguing in a Florida courtroom that he shouldn't face criminal charges for fatally shooting a man during a roadway confrontation since he was acting in self-defense.
Former Brevard County deputy Yousef Hafza's attorney began making arguments for his client's "stand your ground" immunity hearing last Friday in a courtroom on Florida's Space Coast.
Hafza was charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder for the 2016 shooting death of Clarence Howard following a traffic confrontation. Hafza was off-duty at the time.
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Under Florida's "stand your ground" law, people don't have a duty to retreat if they believe they are in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. If the judge agrees with Hafza, the case can be dismissed before a trial is held.
Howard's brother-in-law, Jose Montanez, who was with Howard at the time of the shooting, testified Friday that the confrontation started when their car and Hafza's vehicle almost collided.
Florida Today reports that the men decided to follow Hafza's vehicle so they could give the driver a piece of their mind. After a brief of exchange of words, Hafza got out of his car and started firing, Montanez said.
Montanez said Hafza didn't identify himself as a deputy and gave no warning when he got out of his vehicle and started shooting.
"Nah, he didn't give us no chance to do anything," Montanez said Friday. "The whole time I'm behind the vehicle, he's shooting. After I seen my brother-in-law on the floor, I put my hands up."
Hafza's defense attorneys said that the two men attempted to run the deputy off the road. They claimed the men were passing vehicles and speeding aggressively to catch up to him.
Hafza left the scene before calling 911 to report the shooting, telling emergency radio dispatchers the men were attempting to get into his vehicle and were at his door, according to authorities.
The hearing was expected to continue at a later date once a schedule was ironed out.