TAMPA, Fla. -- A certified process server in Hillsborough County says he was physically and racially attacked while on the job Tuesday.
Nathaniel Powell has been in his position for 20 years and knows it can be risky.
“This is my first time ever getting into a situation like this,” Powell said.
He serves officials legal documents from the Office of Attorney General and works out of Choice Legal in Brandon. Sometimes, those documents are of child abuse cases.
While serving child termination papers to a man inside his home on Serena Drive in Tampa, he says the man came out irate. Powell, who is Black, says the man called him racial slurs, put his hands in his face, tried to get his tablet from his hands and yelled at him to get off his property.
Instead, Powell dialed 911.
“I told them I need to get someone out here yesterday because I just got assaulted,” he said.
But while on the phone with dispatchers Powell says the man when inside the house and came back out with a gun.
“I froze. I didn’t even think to run because I couldn’t,” said Powell. "I’m saying if it’s my day, it’s my day. He came out close enough to spit on me at least, put the gun in my face and he just started pulling the trigger and it wouldn’t go off.”
He says the man jumped on a bike and took off after that, but Powell says when Tampa police arrived, they didn’t go after him.
The Tampa Police Department says while the incident is under investigation — Powell didn’t correctly say where the man went. They also say he never mentioned to dispatchers that the man pointed a gun at him. They say when they asked him about that, he said he was too heated.
TPD said, “the victim gave dispatch a name, but couldn’t say with 100% certainly who the subject was at the house…” which is why they called Powell on Thursday for a photo lineup.
“But that’s beside the point, if I couldn’t identify this individual, the individual assaulted me!” he said. “They didn’t respond the way I thought they should have. They should’ve sent someone down the street in pursuit of looking for this guy at least.”
A spokesperson with the Office of Attorney General also responded to the case and said the allegations are “extremely concerning” and are gathering more information.
They’re also attempting to move the July 28 court date up because of the incident and, “to ascertain the impact on our case as it pertains to the safety of the children and individuals involved.”
“I hope they arrest the guy and get them off the street. To me, he's still running around with a weapon,” Powell said.