Advertisement
  1. News

VIDEO: Lawyers give ex-mayor Dale Massad's version of arrest, shooting

A lawyer for former Port Richey mayor Dale Massad, Denis deVlaming, points on Friday to one of two places he says Massad shot his gun toward on Feb. 21. That was the morning a SWAT team tried entering the home. The lawyer and his co-counsel, Bjorn Brunvand, took reporters on a tour of Massad’s home. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Published Apr. 5

PORT RICHEY — Dale Massad woke to the sound of an explosion and a gunshot. He gathered his wits and grabbed a pistol from beside his bed.

He opened the door to his second-floor bedroom, looked down the hallway and saw no one. Then, using skills honed as a big-game hunter, he fired two warning shots. One went into an elevator shaft to his right, and the other went straight ahead into a half-wall at the end of the hallway, before it turns right and goes down to his front door.

That's what lawyers for the former Port Richey mayor argue happened in the early morning hours of Feb. 21, when law enforcement officers showed up to serve a warrant at his home. Massad was arrested that day on charges of practicing medicine without a license and attempted murder.

Officers never were in danger, the attorneys said. Massad was just trying to deliver a message: "I'm armed — stay away," said Bjorn Brunvand, one of the lawyers.

Brunvand and his co-counsel, Denis deVlaming, invited reporters to Massad's Hayward Lane home on Friday to try to convince them it would have been impossible for their client to shoot toward deputies on a Pasco County Sheriff's Office SWAT team, as authorities allege.

Lawyers said they wanted to correct what they saw as inaccurate media coverage and let people watching from afar see what happened.

"We wanted you to be able to see what Dale Massad saw," said Brunvard.

Contacted afterward, Assistant State Attorney Bryan Sarabia told the Tampa Bay Times: "Their analysis of the facts is different from ours."

Massad, the subject of a months-long investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, resigned from office a day after his arrest, sparking what's become an implosion in city hall. Vice Mayor Terry Rowe took over the mayorship, but then was arrested on charges that he conspired with Massad to target a city police officer who went undercover for state agents. That officer received medical treatment from Massad, the state says.

The two lawyers took several reporters on a tour of Massad's spacious waterfront home. The front door is still busted up from a SWAT battering ram and shotgun blast. A big-game trophy head — two of many throughout the house — hangs inside on either side of the door.

The lawyers portrayed Massad as an average citizen defending his home from perceived intruders and a man who had been burglarized and was fearful of another break-in.

"I would suggest: No, it wasn't reckless," Brunvand said.

The attorneys dispute whether Massad even heard the knocks and calls from deputies outside that night.

To show their argument, the defense team split in two, with deVlaming sitting on Massad's bed with the bedroom door closed and Brunvand outside the house. Some reporters stood inside, with others outside.

Brunvand simulated what he said happened during the raid, pounding on the outside of the tall front doors.

From inside, the knocks came through as deep, dampened thuds — maybe more felt than heard.

"I can vaguely hear the pounding of the door," said deValming, "but then again, I'm awake."

It was about 4:40 a.m. when authorities came to the home in February, and Massad and his girlfriend were asleep, the lawyers said.

Sarabia laughed at Brunvand's suggestion that Massad wasn't reckless and that Massad was firing warning shots.

Had deputies been able to enter the home sooner than they did, Sarabia said, "they would've been in the line of fire."

The Sheriff's Office has said that its deputies knocked and announced their presence before taking a battering ram and then shooting at the door. Massad shot toward them after they deployed a flashbang device and tried entering the building, the agency says.

Massad and his companion didn't know whether the people from outside were real officers or "fake cops," said deVlaming.

For now, Massad remains jailed without bail. He has a court date scheduled for April 11.

Contact Justin Trombly at jtrombly@tampabay.com. Follow @JustinTrombly.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Defendant Reynaldo Figueroa Sanabria leaves the courtroom Wednesday during his murder trial. Sanabria is accused of the stabbing deaths of John Travlos and his girlfriend Germana Morin aboard their houseboat. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria faces the death penalty in the slayings of John Travlos and Germana “Geri” Morin.
  2. [SKIP O'ROURKE   | Times]
    It’s unclear if there will be any proposed changes to this method for measuring teachers’ impact on their students’ performance, despite complaints.
  3. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    The teen sent texts naming two classmates and a faculty member as targets, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. He did not have access to guns, however.
  4. Zephyrhillls police Officer Timothy Alan Murr II, 33, was arrested Monday on a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence. The police department suspended him with pay pending the completion of the criminal investigation. Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    The officer is accused of grabbing a woman’s wrists. The Zephyrhills Police Department suspended him with pay.
  5. This satellite image shows Hurricane Michael on Oct. 9, 2018, as it enters the Gulf of Mexico. It made landfall near Mexico Beach in the Panhandle as a Category 5 storm. Florida State University professor Wenyuan Fan said the storm probably created "stormquakes" offshore in the gulf, too. [Photo courtesy of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration]] NOAA
    Analysis of a decade of records shows hurricanes causing seismic activity on continental shelf
  6. Ken Jones, CEO of Third Lake Capital, has sold WingHouse for $18 million to a Jacksonville restaurant company. [Times 2016]
    Tampa’s Third Like Capital now major shareholder in restaurant’s new owners.
  7. Mama is available for adoption. Hernando County Animal Services
    Hernando County shelter pet offerings
  8. The Don CeSar Hotel is caught up in a lawsuit over liquid nitrogen being served and causing injuries at its restaurant. [Times (2011)]
    They say the other side has made inflammatory and misleading statements to the media.
  9. This Mobil Coast gas station at 16055 State Road 52 in Land O Lakes is one of 10 cited in a Florida Department of Environmental Protection lawsuit where inspectors said they found lapses in regularly required tests, maintenance, documentation or other oversight by Brandon-based Automated Petroleum and Energy or its related companies. On Wednesday, the company said the station had already been put back in compliance with state regulations. (Photo via Google street view) Google street view
    The Florida Department of Environmental Protection contends Automated Petroleum and Energy Company failed to do required maintenance or testing at 10 gas stations in the Tampa Bay area and beyond.
  10. FILE - In this Wednesday, July 10, 2019 file photo, 6-year-old elementary school students go through the lunch line in the school's cafeteria in Paducah, Ky. Nearly a million students could lose their automatic eligibility for free school lunches under a Trump administration proposal that's expected to reduce the number of people who get food stamps. In October 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released an analysis finding as many as 982,000 children could be affected by the change. ELLEN O'NAN  |  AP
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released details of an analysis that found that as many as 982,000 children could be affected by the change.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement