ORLANDO, Fla. - A former Brevard County deputy says he plans to go back to the agency after being acquitted of murder and attempted murder last week.
It was a very emotional moment for Yousef Hafza when a jury acquitted him on Friday.
"The feeling is unreal. It’s hard to describe. It's terrifying waiting for that verdict, but the feeling was so good. It was just finally."
Yousef celebrated at home with his family.
"Everybody was just excited and happy. I slept really good for the first time in a long time. It’s been very difficult."
The former deputy was arrested back in 2016 after a road rage incident took place while he was off duty. Prosecutors accused him of killing an unarmed man named Clarence Howard. The other driver survived.
Yousef said it was self-defense. Regardless, he says he spent three months in solitary confinement for his own safety right after the arrest.
"If you look at my situation, it was very dark and very lonely. I knew the truth would come out."
Attorney Eric Barker, of Nejame Law, felt it was important that his client take the stand and defend himself.
Yousef said, "I wasn’t nervous on the stand. It felt like it was my time. There was so much to presented years before about what was being put in the media and what the state was claiming."
To make matters worse, Yousef’s ex-wife took the stand and accused him of road rage. He says they were together for eight years and are now in a custody battle over their two children.
"It was very difficult and I think if the camera was facing me at one point… I think I was crying when that happened."
We asked, "How do you go forward with something like that?" He said,"That’s a good question. We haven’t tried to."
After the verdict was read, he went out a different door to avoid the media knowing Howard’s family was outside.
"Yeah, we say a victory, but it’s still a tragedy. Ultimately what occurred for all the families… So, we’re still sensitive to the fact that there’s families all involved that are hurt."
Yousef said he should never have been arrested.
"Honestly, face the elephant in the room. I think it was political pressure and unfortunately, I paid the price for it."
Attorney Barker said, "I think the jury did a great job in being able to separate what’s happened in other places and taking other cases where there may have been bad conduct by police and saying well that’s separate."
Yousef encourages officers to stand united and strong.
We asked, "So, are you gonna go back to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office?" He said, "Yes that’s already been discussed. And it’s already in the works. I just want to get back to what I love to do. That’s serving the people and doing what I do best."
He hopes to be back at the sheriff's office in a few months.