JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — A Johnson City man who allegedly told police he had been using methamphetamine all day faces three counts of assault against first responders after police say he attempted to grab officers’ firearms while they arrested him.
A Johnson City Police Department (JCPD) news release states that officers responded to the Bravo Inn in Johnson City just after midnight Friday after receiving a call that someone was holding a woman in a room against her will. The caller said the person, later identified as Zachary Cassella, was using a knife.
Records show Cassella has been involved in several incidents since June in which he ran from officers.
The alleged victim had escaped by the time officers reached the room, but Cassella was reportedly still holding a knife. After they convinced him to drop it, he left the room and was speaking to officers when “he grabbed an officer’s firearm and attempted to unholster it,” the report states.
Cassella then continued trying to grab multiple officers’ weapons and resist arrest, the report says. A brief struggle reportedly occurred and “officers were able to gain compliance” and handcuff Cassella.
Cassella, 22, is charged with aggravated assault, false imprisonment, three counts of simple assault against a first responder and resisting arrest. He is scheduled for an initial hearing Monday afternoon in Washington County Sessions Court.
An arrest affidavit from the initial responding officer reports that Cassella was a guest in one of the motel’s rooms, became upset during an argument and wouldn’t let the victim leave. The officer reports that when he arrived, Cassella was inside the room with the curtains open yelling, “they are all Aryans.”
When the officer got inside, Cassella – while continuing to yell – pointed and said he had a gun.
“As I turn to look Cassella attempts to grab my department-issued firearm,” the affidavit states, adding that “a fight then ensued.” The report says Cassella tried to grab the reporting officer’s gun again, also tried to grab another responding officer’s gun, and kicked both officers as he attempted to escape.
A third officer arrived “and after a brief struggle” Cassella was handcuffed. The affidavit states he admitted to EMS that he had been using meth all day, and he was initially taken to Johnson City Medical Center.
Court documents and affidavits show Cassella has had several recent brushes with the law in Johnson City. They include an Aug. 28 incident in which he pleaded guilty to evading arrest and a June 11 incident in which a charge of resisting arrest was dismissed but he also pleaded guilty to evading arrest.
On June 7, Cassella was arrested and charged with burglary of a car.