Victim in road rage incident confronts Decherd city leaders

road rage
Posted at 10:44 PM, Jul 12, 2021

DECHERD, Tenn. (WTVF) — It’s the latest in a bizarre case from Rutherford County, where an off-duty out-of-town police officer is facing charges after pulling his service gun on a driver in a road rage incident off of I-24.

The whole thing was captured on a passerby’s cell phone camera.

The Rutherford County Sheriff's Office says it involved an off-duty police officer from the Franklin County town of Decherd.

The sheriff's office says off-duty officer, Mathew Ward, drew his department-issued handgun on Ilya Kovalchuk.

“He approached me and held a gun to my face on the ground and told me to get on the ground,” Ilya Kovalchuk told NewsChannel 5 on Monday. “He yelled at me, said he was a cop, and that he’s on duty 24/7.”

The sheriff's office arrested Ward for aggravated assault and the Decherd police department allowed Ward to resign.

But Kovalchuk still wants answers from the police.

“I tried to contact them multiple times, I never heard anything back from the police department, just to see how he even got employed in the first place when this all went down,” Kovalchuk said.

But the Decherd Police Chief told us Monday the department hasn’t made any final conclusions about what was captured on camera.

“We didn’t get any of the evidence, we don’t know what happened,” said Dechert Police Chief Ross Peterson. “We were told there was some kind of a situation between him and this former officer.”

NewsChannel 5 offered to show Peterson the cell phone video.

“I don’t watch things that are on the media like that,” Peterson said. “I do not want to watch it, because how many, was there one video or 10? I don’t know. What if there’s a video that comes out and says something totally different than what that video says, that’s what I’m seeing across the country now.”

So Monday, Kovalchuk took his concerns to the Decherd Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

“I would like for you guys to figure that out and hold the person responsible who is responsible for getting him hired and giving him a gun,” Kovalchuk asked the board during a public comment period.

Without any further action from the board, that’s where it ended, with Ward still facing charges.