A Johnson City man who led police on a lengthy pursuit during frigid weather last year was sentenced to 15 years in prison for burglaries and assaulting an officer.
Cory Carnella, 22, was ordered to serve that sentence after Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp heard testimony from two officers — one who said Carnella’s vehicle knocked him down and nearly ran over him.
But the man’s mother disputes what Johnson City Police Sgt. Mike Harris said about getting hit and said her son didn’t intentionally harm him or try to hurt Officer Mark Williams during another part of the pursuit.
Officers tried to stop Carnella on Dec. 29 after two break-ins that night. One was at Mahoney’s and the other at Alpine Ski Center.
The officers described a winding chase through neighborhoods, into cul-de-sacs and Carnella getting away by driving through yards.
Officers thought they had Carnella cornered at one point near Glaze Drive, and that’s when Harris said he was out of his car when Carnella started toward him.
Harris pulled his weapon out, but was only a couple of steps away when he fired his gun. It didn’t stop Carnella, and the car “grazed me, knocked me to the ground,” Harris said.
The officer was not seriously injured, but was just a foot or two from being run over, he said.
From there the chase ended up on Carroll Creek Road, where Carnella finally crashed.
That’s when Williams said he used his Taser to subdue Carnella, but that the man still fought officers.
Williams said had Carnella pinned face-down on the ground, but his hands were under him and he would not comply with officers’ commands to pull them out.
When Williams tried to reload his Taser, Carnella “turned over on me,” he said, and the officer hit Carnella in the face.
“I felt his hand reach for my gun belt,” and he hit Carnella again, which knocked the man out.
Carnella was taken to the Johnson City Medical Center for treatment.
Cupp would not entertain any form of alternative sentencing given Carnella’s history.
He was convicted of arson in 2008 and was on probation when the 2010 incident occurred.
“He actually was trying to hit the officer,” Cupp said. “Sgt. Harris is probably lucky he’s in here testifying today.”
Carnella’s mother, Carla Edwards, said after the hearing a detective told her last year that her son did not hit an officer, so she was surprised at Harris’ testimony.
“I can’t believe they said all the things they said,” Edwards said.
Carnella is a Range 2 offender, which means he must serve 35 percent of the 15 years before he’s eligible for release.