Hillsborough road rage victim wants former deputy to face 'justi - WFLA News Channel 8

Hillsborough road rage victim wants former deputy to face 'justice'

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Evan Rees and wife Cindy Vervuurt at their Sebring home. Evan Rees and wife Cindy Vervuurt at their Sebring home.
Still image from cell phone video of confrontation Still image from cell phone video of confrontation

The cell phone video from a teenager in a nearby car is chilling.

“Oh my god, has a gun, oh my god he has a gun, oh my god,” she can be heard screaming.

Frantic words describe the moment after a rear-end crash between two drivers on I-4 in Seffner back on February 15th.

Witnesses say former Hillsborough County Sheriff’s detective Thomas Pettis became enraged at Evan Rees, after Pettis crashed into Rees' wife's car.

With f-bombs flying, the video shows the two men grappling on the ground. Pettis is on his back. Rees, a biology teacher, is on top. He had no idea the man he's fighting is a detective.

“To me, it was just a crazy guy, an angry man, just trying to take out the world on us,” said Rees from his home in Sebring.

Then, the road rage incident gets really scary.

“He was choking me and eye gouging me with his thumb,” said Rees.

In the video, Pettis pulls a gun from an ankle holster and points it at Rees. Pettis gets up, shows his badge, and puts his gun away.

There's more yelling. Then, off camera, Pettis punches Rees in the head.

“By the time I got up and turned around, there was a gun, he was like moving towards me with the gun,” said Rees.

“To see him walking toward my husband with the gun, to call self defense at that point is ridiculous,” said Cindy Vervuurt, Rees’ wife.

In the months since the incident, Rees hoped Pettis would face a charge of aggravated assault with a firearm, but he found out the State Attorney dropped that charge and will also drop a misdemeanor battery charge, as long as Pettis completes community service.

The State Attorney report explains, Pettis committed a battery upon Rees, and that he did not do so in self-defense of another.

“I want to see justice. Other than just talking to people like yourself, I don't know how to make that happen,” said Rees.

Since this incident in February, Pettis resigned from the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office.

Rees is hoping an independent law enforcement agency can look at this case and offer another opinion of how it's being handled.

The next hearing is May 15th. 

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