PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — In the early morning of February 21, 2019, Pasco deputies were serving a warrant on Port Richey Mayor Dale Massad.
The raid was related to an investigation that was practicing medicine without a license.
Massad says he thought someone was breaking into his home so he shot his gun in self-defense.
"To have to go home and tell my family after 20 years in law enforcement that I almost died," said Sgt. Bill Lindsay with the Pasco Sheriff's Office.
Lindsay, who led the SWAT team, said in court Wednesday that he’s suffered anxiety and stress over what happened.
"I've had nightmares and I promise you I’ll never forget the image of him standing at the top of the stairs point a gun at me and my team.”
Massad, who’s been in jail for two years, will now get out in less than 12 months after a plea agreement of three years on charges of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.
Even Judge Mary Handsel said Massad is getting quite a deal. But Sgt. Lindsay had much harsher words.
“Mr. Massad has clearly exploited the worst flaw in the criminal justice system and that’s that money and political influence buys you freedom if you are rich,” he said.
This case is one of many that never went to trial because of the pandemic. There were no jury trials from March to October. Then Pasco County courts were shut down for in-person again in January.
“This was a way to resolve it so that there was light at the end of the tunnel. COVID has made it that we couldn’t get a trial date," said defense attorney Denis DeVlaming.
“His conduct during the plea hearings, and during the interviews have demonstrated that he’s a true psychopath," said Lindsay.
“He’s absolutely not a psychopath. He was a frightened man who was defending his home," said defense attorney Bjorn Brunvand.
Massad’s attorneys say once he’s released, the former mayor will leave Pasco County and move to South Florida to live close to family.