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Off-duty police officer charged with aggravated assault

An off-duty Decherd police officer was charged with aggravated assault after he allegedly pointed his department-issued handgun at a driver Sunday in Murfreesboro, a Rutherford County supervisor said.

Mathew Ward, 31, of Cason Lane in Murfreesboro, was charged after an investigation of the road-rage case starting on Interstate 24, said Patrol Cpl. William Travis, who was the arresting officer.

Decherd City Administrator Rex Clark confirmed Ward was immediately suspended from his duties without pay, and Ward subsequently resigned.

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The investigation showed Ward observed driver Ilya Kovalchuk of Franklin speeding on I-24 Sunday evening.

The officer displayed his Decherd Police badge and signaled for Kovalchuk to slow down, Travis reported. They exchanged words.

Ward pursued Kovalchuk to Medical Center Parkway at Silohill Lane where both men exited their vehicles.

“Ward drew his Decherd-issued handgun and pointed it at Mr. Kovalchuk while ordering him to lay on the ground,” Travis reported.

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Travis and Detective Joe Duncan investigated the case, resulting in Ward’s arrest.

Ward was booked into the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center and released on a $5,000 bond. A hearing is set for Oct. 27 in General Sessions Court.

Clark said Ward’s resignation creates a vacancy within the Police Department, and the city will be seeking applicants to fill the void.

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