A 22-year-old man was shot dead in Palm Bay, Florida, by an off-duty Brevard County Sheriff’s deputy in a fit of uncontrolled road rage late Sunday morning, marking the latest in incidents involving police coming unhinged and targeting civilians.
Deputy Yousef Hafza, a veteran cop with 11 years in law enforcement, shot Clarence Mahogany X. Howard in an apparent case of road rage, though details about what took place remain murky, unnamed investigators told local ABC affiliate, WFTV 9.
“There were no witnesses to the exact incident other than the person who was in the vehicle,” stated Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey. He added without clarifying, “There was somebody who came up right after.”
WFTV 9 reported Howard had followed the Hafza for a time prior to the shooting, though the deputy was not injured in the apparent confrontation.
“It appears to be what resulted from a road rage incident that started several miles from this location,” said Sheriff Wayne Ivey. “It appears that it escalated and at one point there was a subject that was shot.”
Astonishingly, Hafza has been placed only on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. Though WFTV 9 did not indicate whether or not this would include pay, administrative leave ordinarily denotes the officer will be given paid ‘desk duty.’
Though Ivey claimed the aggressor in the incident hasn’t been fully determined, Howard did not fire any shots — and Hafza robbed the young man of his life.
A second person — whose identity has not been publicly released — had been present in Howard’s vehicle.
Hafza called 911 after shooting Howard, and Brevard County firefighters transported him to Holmes Regional Medical Center, though he later succumbed to his injuries.
As WFTV 9 noted, whether or not Hafza used his service weapon to shoot Howard remains unknown.
As disturbing as a fatal shooting by an off-duty cop unable to control basic emotions might be, an incident less than a week ago nearly had a similar outcome.
An off-duty sergeant with the NYPD nearly struck a bike messenger, DeJaune Jones, with his car — but accused the cyclist of hitting his window.
This lunatic cop stopped his vehicle in the middle of midtown Manhattan to confront Jones — with a gun.
While cell phones taped the confrontation — which happened in broad daylight — the unidentified, off-duty officer exited his vehicle, gun in hand, and casually threatened the lives of Jones, the group of bike messengers accompanying him, and the entire public stuck in traffic because he couldn’t rein in his anger.
An entire city block along Greenwich Avenue ground to a halt, and as reports of a crazed gunman began to circulate — with the incident occurring just days after the Orlando massacre — a local elementary school had to be placed on lockdown.
But though the police claim to be investigating that confrontation — a dubious statement of the ‘we investigated ourselves and found we did nothing wrong’ variety — Jones was arrested after the maniac cop claimed he lunged with an 8-inch ice pick.
Video does not evidence any lunging or ice pick, and Jones later explained he dropped an Allen key which was possibly confused with an ice pick. As for the showing aggression necessary for the off-duty cop to ‘defend’ himself, Jones admitted to the Gothamist he kicked the sergeant’s bumper “out of adrenaline and frustration of him pointing a revolver point blank in my face and then just walking away into the restaurant with a loaded gun in his pocket.”
Such wholly unjustifiable and malicious acts of rage would be completely unacceptable when carried out by a civilian — but even more so by an officer of the law, as they tell of a deeper resentment against the public they’re ostensibly tasked with protecting.
Would a civilian in the same situation be allowed to continue going about daily life unhindered after fatally shooting a motorist? Of course not — such a criminal would and should be arrested and face consequences in court for endangering lives.
As tension between the public and law enforcement nationwide increases, those defending the ‘men and women in blue’ should look to these tirades by lunatic cops to better understand why many believe calling the police is never a good idea.