WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. - Sheriff Wayne Ivey says 11 year veteran deputy Yousef Hafza was arrested on 2nd degree murder charges Tuesday after an FDLE investigation into an off duty shooting.
Sheriff Ivey said, "Investigations of this type are always extremely difficult, especially when it's one of your own," Sheriff Ivey said. "From the very beginning our agency felt it was appropriate to have FDLE investigate this as a completely independent agency so they could give their findings to the state attorney's office."
Hafza was running errands on June 19th when deputies tell us there was a road rage altercation in Palm Bay.
That's when investigators say Hafza pulled out a gun and shot and killed 25-year-old Clarence Howard. Investigators say Hafza left the scene. Minutes later, two calls came into 911. The first call came from Howard's brother-in-law, the second, from deputy Hafza.
Tuesday afternoon Hafza was supposed to have his first appearance in front of a judge at the Brevard County Jail, but his lawyer chose to waive the hearing. His lawyer, Martin White told Fox 35 News, "Of course he's upset and distraught over all the totality of the circumstances, but he's hanging in there. Yes, he's innocent. I don't want go into the facts of the case but yes."
Fox 35 News reached out to Howard's family but hadn't heard back as of Tuesday evening.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey issued this statement:
"Cases involving a member of your own agency are best facilitated with complete transparency that ensures public trust while also protecting the integrity of the investigation. As such, from the very beginning of the incident, I asked FDLE to conduct an independent investigation and present their findings to the State Attorney's Office for a full review of the facts. Following their review, the State Attorney authorized an arrest warrant, which resulted in Yousef Hafza being charged today by FDLE.”
"Pursuant to the arrest, Hafza was immediately suspended from our agency without pay pending an Administrative review of the incident. Once FDLE has completed their investigation, they will provide a copy of the findings, which will furnish the information required to complete the Administrative Investigation."