MORGANVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — What started out as a normal day visiting relatives last year ended with a dramatic life change for an off-duty Hudson County, New Jersey, police detective in Maryland, as he drew a gun and shot a man dead.

Detective Joseph Walker, 41, told his story to CBS 2’s Christine Sloan, a day after he was acquitted of murder charges in the road rage incident.

“In seconds, I went from having a ho-hum day, to having a very good getting to visit my family, to becoming the worst day of my life,” Walker said.

Walker, who works for the Hudson County prosecutor’s office, said the man he shot and killed – Joseph Harvey Jr., 36 – came charging at him during the road rage incident on Route 3 in Millersville, Maryland.

“I am more than sorry for that,” Walker said. “You know, no matter what I do with my life – no matter what – a man is dead. I had something to do with that.”

But Walker said he was left with no choice other than to act in self-defense.

“I had to fire,” he said. “There was nothing else.”

Walker was on the road with his wife and three children when they were targeted by two angry men after making a driving error on the Maryland highway.

“He just pulled up right alongside us, and just kept pushing us over,” Walker said. “He just turned his vehicle into ours, to the point if I would have kept going straight, he would have definitely hit us.”

Ending up in a ditch, Walker said he thought the men were gone. But his wife saw them running toward their van.

“She yells at me, ‘Joe, they’re coming!’” Walker said. “The driver yelling — every other word is ‘F’ this, ‘F’ that, ‘N’ this, ‘N’ that.”

Walker said the driver, Harvey, threatened to kill him.

“That came right after the ‘F’s and the ‘N’s,” he said.

Walker, whose legal fees were paid for by the National Police Defense Foundation, said he warned Harvey that he was a police officer.

“He kept coming,” Walker said. “You see the badge. Doesn’t even make him pause,” Walker said.

That was when Harvey fired his weapon once — and then a second time when Harvey would not stop, the cop said.

“That is the only choice I had to make sure my family got out of there in one piece,” Walker said. “That’s all I wanted. I just wanted my family to be safe.”

Walker is now facing a civil lawsuit by the Harvey family. The National Police Defense Foundation said it will raise more money to defend him.

The foundation also plans to take the case to the U.S. Department of Justice, saying Walker’s civil rights were violated because of prosecutorial misconduct.

The Harvey family has declined to comment.

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