Man arrested after three-county police pursuit

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   A Johnson City man was arrested Thursday morning by Carter County Sheriff's Department officers after leading them on a three-county pursuit.
   General Dwight Pittman, 47, was taken into custody and charged with felony evading arrest, felony reckless endangerment, criminal trespassing, being a habitual motor vehicle offender, violation of the financial responsibility law and violation of the vehicle registration law.
   According to CCSD Deputy, Janice Black, she was on routine patrol in the Watauga area of the county when she saw a suspicious vehicle parked at 402 Dalewood Dr. Black stated she knows the owners of the property, and the vehicle, a white Mercury Marquis, did not belong to them.
   "When I ran the tag through 911 it didn't come back registered to that vehicle," Black said.
   According to a police report by CCSD Sgt. Keith Range, after searching the vehicle's tag, Black approached the vehicle and saw a person underneath a blanket in the driver's seat.
   The man inside, later identified as Pittman, fumbled around and ignored Blacks order that he show her his hands. "When I beat on the window he roused up but wouldn't take his hands out from under the blanket," she said. "He never did pull his hands out from under the blanket. He reached up and started the car with his hands under the blanket and put the car into gear with his hands under the blanket."
   While Black was standing at the car, Pittman started it and drove away at a high rate of speed. At that point, Black pursued Pittman in an attempt to initiate a traffic stop.
   Pittman continued on Dalewood Drive and turned onto Woodlyn Road. "When he reached the (U.S.) Highway 400 intersection he made a right turn onto (U.S.) Highway 400 and then a short time later a left turn onto Pine Flats Road," the police report by Range states.
   According to both Range and Black, Pittman drove into Washington County before turning back towards Carter County, then continued into Sullivan County. After reaching Sullivan County, Pittman returned again to Carter County.
   Range along with Lt. Bob Huffman joined Black at the intersection of Piney Flats Road and U.S. Highway 400, where the suspect turned onto the highway toward Johnson City before turning left onto Woodlyn Road. "At this time I managed to position my cruiser in front of the suspect in an attempt to slow him down," Range said. "On several occasions, the suspect attempted to pass me on both sides of the road, almost striking my cruiser. At one point, the suspect left the right side of the road into a grassy area and attempted to pass my unit and when he came back onto the road again almost struck my unit, trying to force me off the road."
   Range managed to keep the vehicle driven by Pittman behind him on the roadway, causing Pittman to slow his pace. "We continued on Woodlyn Road and when the opportunity arose I slowed down until I stopped my unit in the road and at this time the suspect stopped. I exited my vehicle and order the suspect to turn off his vehicle," Range said.
   At that time the man drove forward again in an attempt to strike the officer, according to the report. "I drew my service weapon and fired two rounds into the front driver's side tire. At this time the driver put the vehicle into reverse and attempted to get away, almost striking Deputy Black who had exited her vehicle. At this point, Deputy Black fired one round from her service weapon at the back tire."
   Pittman then parked the car but refused to exit the vehicle. Range had to physically remove Pittman from the vehicle before placing him under arrest.
   According to Range, Pittman was charged with felony reckless endangerment for nearly striking Range and Black, and for the reckless manner in which he was driving during the pursuit.
  Pittman is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court today.